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Pine River man gets 40 years for murder

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

The 29-year-old Pine River man — who killed Mark Huesmann in 2012, burning and dismembering his body before burying him — was sentenced Thursday in Cass County Court to serve the statutory maximum of 40 years in prison.

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Dane Joseph Riley was convicted on Dec. 13 by a Cass County jury of second-degree intentional murder, interference with a dead body and ineligible person in possession of a firearm.

Cass County Attorney Christopher Strandlie said in a separate trial the jury found that aggravating factors existed, which warranted an upward departure from the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. The jury found that Riley had treated Huesmann, who was 27 years old, with particular cruelty when he burned and dismembered his body before burying him. The jury also found that Riley is a dangerous offender.

Ninth District Judge David Ten Eyck presided over the trial and sentenced Riley. Strandlie said Riley was further sentenced to serve 60 months for the firearm violation and one year for the interference with a dead body violation. Pursuant to Minnesota law, the sentences will be served concurrently with the murder sentence.

In the five day trial, the jury received evidence that on July 20, 2012, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office was contacted in reference to a missing person report. Authorities learned that Huesmann had not been seen or heard from since July 13, 2012.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Riley, who is also known as Dane Brogle:

• Investigation revealed that Huesmann had been at a party on Cass County Road 2 in rural Pine River during the late hours of July 13, 2012 and early hours of July 14, 2012. Huesmann had called Riley and asked him for a ride from the party. Riley had picked up Huesmann at the house sometime during the early morning hours of July 14, 2012.

• Phone records of Huesmann indicate that he used his phone last in an area west of a cell tower located north of Backus on Highway 371 during the early morning hours of July 14, 2012. The trailer where Riley resided was in close proximity to where the cellphone was used.

• Phone records of Huesmann indicate that he used his phone last in an area west of a cell tower located north of Backus on Highway 371 during the early morning hours of July 14. The trailer where Riley resided was in close proximity to where the cell phone was used.

• A concerned citizen, near Riley’s residence, heard panicked screams and gunshots around 4:20 a.m. July 14, 2012 and reported it to authorities later that morning. After the gunshots, the witness heard a panicked male voice yelling several times. The witness later heard a female voice yelling, but could not make out what she was saying.

• Riley confirmed with investigators that he picked up Huesmann in the late evening hours of July 13, 2012. Riley said he thought he was driving his father’s truck when he picked up Huesmann at the party and stated that he has several vehicles available to him. Riley said he learned that Huesmann was missing after he returned from a job in North Dakota.

• On July 24, 2012, investigators responded to an area on Riley’s family’s property to a report of a fresh burn pile in a wooded area. The burn pile was located a quarter mile from the trailer home and officers observed burned and fire-damaged clothing and remnants of a tennis shoe. Some of the clothing items appeared to be women’s leggings or pants, similar to those reportedly worn by Riley’s girlfriend. A mud flap from a truck also was found.

• On July 24, 2012, investigators executed a search warrant and located the semi-automatic handgun under a mattress, a navy blue, zip hoodie that appeared to have blood splattered on it. About 100-150 yards away from the residence, officers found a red pick-up that appeared to have been hidden from view among some junk cars on the property. The mud flap found at the burn site appeared to have come off that truck and there was mud and grass on the truck. Blood appeared to have been on the driver and passenger sides of the truck. The front seats and the topper of the truck appeared to have been recently scrubbed.

• Officers observed vehicle tracks adjacent to a small pond on the property and about 30 yards from the pond, they discovered a path which appeared to have an inordinate amount of recent foot traffic. Along the path, officers recovered a size 10 tennis shoe stuck in the mud. Officers then discovered two areas that appeared to have been recently excavated.

• Riley’s girlfriend, in a subsequent interview, told officers that she had been awakened by the sound of two gunshots in the early morning hours of July 14, 2012. She subsequently went outside where she observed Huesmann on the ground with Riley on top, striking him in the chest area. She further stated that she could hear Huesmann begging Riley to stop and he kept telling him that he would not “tell anyone.” The girlfriend reported that she became hysterical and screamed. Riley ordered her back into the trailer. Riley entered the trailer a short time later and told her not to say anything about what she had seen.

• Officers were alerted to the presence of a burn pit located near the residence. In the pit, officers found the remains or charred clothing. Further search of the property led officers to two separate areas where it appeared that there had been recent excavation.

According to the sheriff’s office, Huesmann’s remains were found in a shallow grave on the property of JB’s Welding and Repair in rural Pine River, near his residence. Officers were alerted to the presence of a burn pit located near this residence of Riley’s.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension conducted the investigation in the case. Assistant Minnesota State Attorney General Eric Schieferdecker assisted Strandlie with the prosecution of the case.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER, staff writer, may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl.

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