Courtroom gambit pays off for rider
The attorneys were presented with a question late Wednesday night: The jury hearing a case of alleged sexual assault had reached a verdict on one charge but could not reach a verdict on a second. Without knowing whether the verdict was guilty or ...
The attorneys were presented with a question late Wednesday night:
The jury hearing a case of alleged sexual assault had reached a verdict on one charge but could not reach a verdict on a second.
Without knowing whether the verdict was guilty or not guilty, the prosecutor and defense attorney could accept a partial verdict, settling the case, or opt for a mistrial and the possibility of a new trial on the original charges.
Their decision to accept the partial verdict turned into a victory for Giir Biar, 39, who was accused of inappropriately touching a woman while she slept on a Greyhound bus in June.
The Clay County District Court jury found Biar not guilty of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. It was unable to reach a verdict on a charge of fourth-degree assault.
Clay County Attorney Brian Melton declined to discuss the decision, other than to say he believed the state presented a strong case.
It included testimony from a woman who said she was sleeping on a bus as it drove through Clay County when she awoke to find Biar touching her.
The woman, who was 18 at the time of the incident, said Biar touched her genital area and one of her breasts.
Biar testified he had sexual contact with the woman and he believed it was consensual because their legs touched while they were seated side by side.
Defense attorney Kenneth Kludt said the jury, which deliberated for about seven hours, worked hard to decide whether the state had proven each element of the charges.
He said he believed that his client, who had been in custody since his arrest in June, would be staying with a friend or relative in the Fargo area, but may be moving on soon.
Kludt said Biar was on his way to Seattle and possibly Alaska when he was arrested at the Fargo bus depot where the Greyhound bus carrying Biar and the woman stopped the night of June 19.
A misdemeanor charge of sexual assault stemming from the same bus ride remains pending against Biar in Cass County District Court, and there is an active warrant for his arrest.
Biar was released after his trial in Clay County because there was no Cass County hold on him.
Cass County typically does not pursue extradition in misdemeanor cases, said Assistant Cass County State's Attorney Leah Viste.
Reporter Brittany Lawonn contributed to this report
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