May 17—A judge has delayed until October the trial of two people accused of plotting a Bismarck man's death, granting a defense attorney request for more time to review new information submitted to them.
The trial of Earl Howard, 42, and Nikkisue Entzel, 40, was set to start Monday morning. It's now scheduled for Oct. 25, court records show.
Howard, of Bellwood, Ontario, and Entzel, of Bismarck, face murder conspiracy, arson conspiracy and other charges in connection with the death of Chad Entzel, 42, who was Nikkisue Entzel's husband. Chad Entzel's body was found when emergency workers in January 2020 responded to a call of a house fire in northeast Bismarck. An autopsy showed he died of gunshot wounds.
Howard and Nikkisue Entzel are accused of plotting Chad Entzel's death in an apparent love triangle and with plans to cash in on a life insurance policy.
Philip Becher, attorney for Earl Howard, and Justin Balzer, who represents Nikkisue Entzel, stated in a request filed Thursday that "significant new evidence" had been forwarded to them on Wednesday. It included information on several new witnesses which the attorneys say will require extensive review. Among a number of video recordings are two recordings of police interviews with Nikkiesue Entzel that may need to be forwarded to an audio expert because they are difficult to understand, the document states.
Burleigh County State's Attorney Julie Lawyer in a brief filed Friday asked South Central District Judge Douglas Bahr to deny the request. The information forwarded last week included information about expert witnesses, Lawyer said, but the witnesses had been disclosed to the defense for some time — some since February 2020. Likewise, the content of the interviews has been available through the reports of investigating officers. The interview video was specifically referenced in court documents filed in September 2020, the prosecutor said.
Bahr's order states only that he considered the information submitted and that the trial will be continued to a new date.
Jury selection had been slated to start Monday at the Burleigh County Courthouse. The trial was to be held in the House Chambers of the state Capitol, which allows more room for social distancing.
Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or [email protected]
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