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Published October 11, 2013, 08:55 AM

Mandan manslaughter suspect convicted of lesser charge

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — A Mandan man charged with manslaughter in the death of another man after a brawl at a house party has been convicted of a lesser charge.

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — A Mandan man charged with manslaughter in the death of another man after a brawl at a house party has been convicted of a lesser charge.

Jurors on Thursday found Colten Towry, 23, guilty of aggravated assault. The charge carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison, half of what Towry could have faced had he been convicted of manslaughter.

A sentencing date was not immediately set. South Central District Judge Cynthia Feland raised Towry's bond from $500 to $5,000.

Towry was accused of punching 30-year-old Derek Oshkeshequoam (pronounced awsh-KEESH'-kuh-wawm) at the October 2012 party. Oshkeshequoam, of Bismarck, fell and hit his head on pavement. He died days later at a hospital.

Towry testified during his three-day trial that Oshkeshequoam was his friend and that he had gone to the party with him. Towry said he was trying to break up a fight between Oshkeshequoam and another man when the incident happened.

Towry's mother, Wynette Mills, and aunt, Wenelle Clown, told The Bismarck Tribune that they were thankful for the jury's attention to detail in the case and their finding that the punch Towry delivered to Oshkeshequoam did not cause his death.

"He didn't kill him," Clown said.

Prosecutor Brian Grosinger told jurors during his closing argument that Towry's punch "started the ball rolling," according to KXMB-TV.

Karen Mulluk, Oshkeshequoam's aunt, told the Tribune that she wanted those involved in her nephew's death to pay for their actions.

"What kind of friend just leaves you there?" Mullak said.

Towry testified during the trial that he thought Oshkeshequoam was passed out drunk and he left the party shortly after the fight broke up. Authorities say partygoers eventually moved Oshkeshequoam inside, to a bed in the basement of the home.

The two men who rented the home allegedly left Oshkeshequoam at a hospital emergency room the next day. They were charged with reckless endangerment for not seeking earlier medical help for Oshkeshequoam. Joseph Houle, 28, pleaded guilty earlier and was sentenced to serve six months in jail. Christopher Vernon, 34, has pleaded not guilty and faces a November trial.

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