Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, May 20, 2002

Custer pleads 'not guilty'

By Lynda Jensen

"Not guilty," is the response that Howard Lake resident Mark Custer gave to Judge Dale Mossey in tenth district court at the Wright County Government Center Tuesday.

Custer is accused of first and second degree criminal sexual conduct with an underage girl for an extended period of time.

The case is continuing forward toward a jury trial, which will likely be scheduled sometime in August or September, said Mark Erickson of the County Attorney's Office.

This means that Custer's guilt or innocence will be determined by a 12-member jury, based on evidence and witness testimony, Erickson said.

Next, a pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, June 25 at 9 a.m. in Buffalo.

The pre-trial hearing will be when the two sides sit down to negotiate the trial parameters, Erickson said.

In addition to Custer's not guilty plea Tuesday, Custer's lawyer, Bob Paule, dropped a challenge to the probable cause in the case during court proceedings. Paule owns a private law office in Minneapolis.

Custer was also to appear in court Friday to renegotiate the conditions of his release.

Custer has been unable to live in his home since February, when he was ordered by the court to leave as a condition of his release.

The alleged victim is not within proximity of the home any longer, Erickson said.

Paule again declined to comment on the case at this time, but may do so in the future, he said.

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