furnace calls life insurance coverage spotlight testimony in north dakota homicide conspiracy trial inforum

BISMARCK — Jurors on Friday, Sept. 30, noticed time-stamped surveillance digicam video of a person and girl coming into and leaving a Bismarck resort and a house northeast of the town on the day authorities say the 2 carried out a plan to kill Chad Entzel.

Entzel’s spouse, Nikki, 41, and Earl Howard, 43, a person with twin citizenship within the U.S. and Canada, had been accused in early 2020 of plotting his demise and making an attempt to cowl it up by way of a number of means together with beginning fires within the Entzel house’s furnace room and bed room.

Chad Entzel, 42, was shot twice with a shotgun and died of his wounds within the bed room, in response to Dr. William Massello, who was the state medical expert in 2020.

Authorities say Nikki Entzel and Howard had been having an affair, with plans to money in on insurance coverage. They had been charged with three conspiracy felonies: homicide, arson and proof tampering.

Howard a few yr in the past pleaded responsible beneath a take care of prosecutors and was sentenced to serve 25 years in jail.

Matthew Heinz of Dickinson, Nikki Entzel’s brother, testified Friday in her trial that it appeared his sister was “fairly shut” to being moved out of the house when he visited her resort room the day Chad Entzel’s physique was discovered on Jan. 2, 2020, by emergency crews who responded to the home fires. Nikki Entzel instructed him the following day that she had insurance policy in place, and Heinz testified that he instructed her to inform the businesses dealing with the insurance policies.

Heinz mentioned he and his sister bought alongside “OK” however didn’t see one another typically. He met Earl Howard a few month earlier than Chad Entzel’s demise, when Nikki and Howard went to Dickinson to drop off Christmas presents for Heinz’s kids. Nikki Entzel sat subsequent to Howard after they left, which Heinz mentioned upset him “as a result of she was married, and to not him.”

Authorities say Nikki Entzel was staying within the resort room with Howard on the time of her husband’s demise. Surveillance video confirmed them on the home within the hours main as much as his demise, in response to earlier trial testimony. Investigators preserve Nikki Entzel thought she had disabled the video surveillance on the house, however that her efforts had failed.

Nikki Entzel instructed investigators that she was bored with dwelling in a home that was having furnace issues in the course of winter.

Technicians from two furnace restore firms testified Friday that in service calls to the house within the weeks earlier than Chad Entzel’s demise, they discovered no points or solely minor ones with the house’s heating system. Anthony Ortega with H.A. Thompson and Sons in Bismarck mentioned that in one name he discovered no fuel was attending to the furnace as a result of somebody had turned off the valve on the tank.

Burleigh County State’s Lawyer Julie Lawyer in her opening assertion to the jury on Tuesday mentioned Nikki Entzel within the days after her husband’s demise inquired with an insurance coverage firm about widow advantages and claims to renter and life insurance coverage insurance policies. The renter coverage was only some days previous and price as much as $31,000, the prosecutor mentioned.

Nikki Entzel inquired about life insurance coverage advantages by way of her husband’s employer the day after his physique was discovered, Interstate Energy Co. Advantages Specialist Heather Schwartz testified Friday. No advantages from the corporate’s fundamental life coverage, which Schwartz mentioned was price between $113,000 and $120,000, had been paid.

Jurors on Thursday heard testimony associated to the 2 fires within the Entzel house.

A portion of a cigarette bundle discovered on the murder scene matched the model present in Howard’s pickup, and was a potential ignition supply for a furnace hearth, in response to state Bureau of Legal Investigation Particular Agent Michael Mees.

One other hearth was within the bed room the place Chad Entzel’s physique was discovered. Mandan Fireplace Division Battalion Chief Shane Weltikol testified Thursday {that a} canine skilled to detect hearth accelerants signaled that the substances had been current on the mattress subsequent to the physique, which was on the bed room flooring. Weltikol is the canine’s handler.

Former Deputy State Fireplace Marshal Levi Roline testified that the 2 fires had been set individually.

Jurors Thursday additionally heard testimony associated to Nikki Entzel’s claims that her husband drank closely and abused her. Buddies, co-workers and Chad Entzel’s former spouse, Susan Entzel, disputed that, describing him as a nonviolent man and a social drinker.

The jury earlier within the week watched an hours-long videotaped interview that then-Deputy Burleigh County Sheriff Aaron Silbernagel and state Bureau of Legal Investigation Particular Agent Joe Arenz performed with Nikki Entzel in January 2020.

The investigators bit-by-bit revealed data to her they mentioned proved she was mendacity, and the backwards and forwards ended with Nikki Entzel telling them she felt a kind of aid that her husband was lifeless.

She additionally maintained that Howard shot and killed her husband. Authorities have mentioned that an analysis of the gun didn’t conclude who pulled the set off.

Nikki Entzel may face life in jail if convicted. Friday was the fifth day of her trial, which is scheduled for 2 weeks. Twelve jurors finally will determine her destiny.

Lawyer instructed South Central District Decide Douglas Bahr she expects to complete her case late Monday or early Tuesday. Protection lawyer Thomas Glass firstly of the trial reserved his opening assertion till he offered his case.

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