A Canadian man who pleaded responsible to plotting the dying of a Bismarck man in what authorities say was a love triangle with plans to money in on a life insurance coverage coverage will probably be sentenced Monday.
Earl Howard, 43, pleaded responsible to 4 felonies in October, simply days earlier than he and co-defendant Nikkisue Entzel, 40, have been to face trial within the dying of Chad Entzel, 42, who was Nikkisue Entzel’s husband. His physique was discovered Jan. 2, 2020, after emergency employees responded to a name of a home fireplace northeast of Bismarck. Authorities say the hearth was deliberately set in an try to cowl up Chad Entzel’s killing. An post-mortem confirmed he died of gunshot wounds to the top.
Nikkisue Entzel was arrested Jan. 7, 2020, and is about to go to trial late this month. Howard, who has twin citizenship within the U.S. and Canada, turned himself in Jan. 9, 2020, on the Blue Water Bridge connecting Port Huron, Michigan, with Ontario, Canada, a day after North Dakota authorities issued a warrant for his arrest.
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Burleigh County Deputy Sheriff Brian Thompson testified throughout a listening to early within the case that Nikkisue Entzel took out a $26,000 life insurance coverage coverage on Chad Entzel within the days earlier than his dying, and that she tried to gather on the coverage quickly after he died. Howard and Nikkisue Entzel have been in a romantic relationship, verified by video and photographs supplied to legislation enforcement, the deputy mentioned.
A plea settlement by Burleigh County State’s Legal professional Julie Lawyer and Howard’s attorneys requires a 50-year jail sentence with 25 years suspended on a homicide conspiracy cost; 10-year suspended sentences on arson and arson conspiracy expenses; and a five-year suspended sentence for proof tampering conspiracy.
South Central District Decide Douglas Bahr in Might dismissed a homicide cost towards Howard on the request of Lawyer. An analysis of the firearm didn’t present proof as to which defendant allegedly shot Chad Entzel. With out that, the state couldn’t corroborate Nikkisue Entzel’s statements to legislation enforcement that Howard shot him, Lawyer mentioned.
Howard’s plea eliminated the potential of life in jail with out parole. Bahr in October tentatively accepted the settlement pending the end result of a presentence investigation.
Bahr final week cleared the best way for Howard to attend the sentencing listening to in particular person. Presiding Decide Bruce Romanick on Jan. 25 issued an emergency order canceling transport of prisoners to the courthouse for in-person hearings due to a spike in COVID-19 circumstances. These numbers have decreased considerably since then, Bahr mentioned, including that he additionally weighed in his determination the intense nature of the case and the chance for in-person testimony from Chad Entzel’s household.
Howard will probably be examined for the virus earlier than he’s transported to the courthouse. The listening to will probably be out there to the general public by digital means.
Nikkisue Entzel’s trial
Lawyer wished Howard’s sentencing to happen earlier than Nikkisue Entzel’s trial to keep away from the potential of Howard withdrawing his plea and requesting his personal trial. Howard in earlier motions had requested that he and Nikkisue Entzel be tried individually.
Lawyer and Justin Balzer, who’s Nikkisue Entzel’s lawyer, after Howard’s responsible pleas additionally agreed they would want extra time to arrange for a trial with a single defendant.
Bahr final fall agreed to reschedule the trial “with nice reluctance,” noting Nikkisue Entzel had already spent 22 months in jail at the moment.
The choose additionally reset Howard’s sentencing date after telling attorneys at a Jan. 6 listening to that the presentence investigation may not be out there till a number of days earlier than the unique sentencing date of Jan. 21. A defendant by legislation is allowed 14 days to assessment the report earlier than being sentenced.
That did not affect Nikkisue Entzel’s trial, which begins Feb. 28. Ten days are put aside. She faces three conspiracy expenses — homicide, arson, and tampering with bodily proof. She might face life in jail if convicted.
Attain Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com