February 17, 2021
Bismarck Tribune

A Bismarck man serving a 30-year sentence for child sex crimes in Burleigh County entered an Alford plea Wednesday to similar charges in Morton County and was sentenced.

Russell Walbert, 65, was ordered to spend 461 days in prison and five years on probation upon his release. South Central District Judge James Hill gave Walbert credit for 461 days served. Hill suspended the rest of a 15-year prison term. One of the two charges against Walbert was dismissed, court documents show. Defense attorney Garrett Ludwig did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under an Alford plea a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that there would be enough evidence for a conviction if the case went to trial.

Walbert in November 2019 was accused in Morton County of inappropriately touching a young girl in several incidents from 2001-04, according to a police affidavit.

A Burleigh County jury in November 2019 found Walbert guilty of four counts of gross sexual imposition. Authorities said he molested a different girl during incidents in 2017 in a shed at his residence and in a camper parked on his property. He was sentenced to four consecutive 7 ½-year sentences.

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