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Man accused in murder conspiracy wants separate trial

July 15, 2020 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A man accused of killing the husband of his co-defendent near Bismarck last winter wants to be tried separately from the woman.

An attorney for Earl Howard argued at a hearing in Burleigh County Tuesday that the criminal background of his client and Nikkisue Entzel are different and that trying them together would be unfair and could lead to a mistrial.

Howard is charged with murder, arson and three conspiracy counts in the death of Chad Entzel, whose body was found Jan. 2 after a house fire northeast of Bismarck. An autopsy showed Entzel died of gunshot wounds, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Nikkisue Entzel is charged with three counts of conspiracy. Burleigh County Deputy Sheriff Brian Thompson has testified that Entzel and Howard were in a relationship and plotted the victim’s death with plans to cash in on a life insurance policy.


Howard’s attorney, Philip Becher, told South Central District Judge Douglas Bahr that Nikkisue Entzel has a significant criminal history, unlike Howard and that forcing them to stand trial together presents “the opportunity for unfairly impugning him in the eyes of jury.”

Bahr said he will likely rule on the motion sometime next week. He also denied Becher’s request to reduce Howard’s $1 million cash bail.