A Burleigh County jury on Thursday found a Bismarck man guilty of molesting a young girl during incidents two years ago in a shed at his residence and in a camper parked on his property.
Jurors deliberated for about 3 ½ hours over two days before convicting Russell Walbert, 64, who now faces the possibility of a 20-year sentence on each of four counts of gross sexual imposition.
The jury of 10 men and two women received the case at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and deliberated for 2 ½ hours before breaking for the day. Jurors reconvened at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and returned the verdict about 9:15 a.m., according to Burleigh County State’s Attorney Julie Lawyer.
Walbert was charged this summer with molesting a girl younger than 10 in alleged incidents in 2017. He has been held in the Burleigh Morton Detention Center since being charged.
Both he and the girl testified during his trial, which began Tuesday. Defense attorney Kent Morrow argued before the jury on Wednesday that Walbert could not possibly have committed the acts she described, while Lawyer argued that no testimony in the case disputed what the girl said.
The next step in the case is a mandatory presentence investigation that will include a sex offender risk assessment. Sentencing will be scheduled after the investigation, Lawyer said. Walbert is being held without bail.
“I appreciate that the jury took the time to go over everything and seriously consider everything,” Lawyer said.
Morrow did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Prosecutors in Morton County last week filed two charges of gross sexual imposition against Walbert for alleged incidents involving another girl from 2001 to 2004. A Dec. 16 preliminary hearing is set in that case.
Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com
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