Physical and technical evidence will show a Bismarck lady killed her husband with a lover’s help, a prosecutor said. Julie Lawyer, Burleigh County state’s attorney, said Nikki Sue Entzel and Earl Howard killed Chad Entzel. Thomas Glass’ opening speech came late in the two-week trial.
Howard pleaded guilty to four charges approximately a year ago. Judge Douglas Bahr granted Entzel a 50-year sentence with 25 years suspended in February.The charge was murder conspiracy. Howard must serve 21 years in prison. In Nikki Entzel’s case, he’s a prosecution witness.
She has pleaded not guilty. She could face life in prison if convicted
Nikki Sue Entzel, 41, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, arson and tampering with evidence for the 2019 shooting death of her husband, Chad Entzel, 42, of Bismarck, North Dakota. Chad was found dead on his bedroom floor on Jan. 2, 2019 after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds, according to Law & Crime.
Chad Entzel’s body was found in a 2020 Bismarck house fire. Responders suspected he killed himself. Lawyer told jurors “too much of a coincidence” because shotgun was far from body and bedroom and furnace room were on fire.
A Shotgun Lawyer Said
The prosecutor believes Nikki Entzel and Howard planned Chad Entzel’s death and returned after their first firing attempt failed. The two seized one of the empty shotgun shells and left one unfired.
Nikki Entzel called her husband’s work to say he was sick and told them she had moved out of the house they shared and into a motel. Lawyer said that Howard was the one who signed up for that room.
“What you will hear in the end is that Nikki Entzel was having an affair with Earl Howard,” Lawyer said.
Lawyer said that after Chad Entzel died, Nikki Entzel asked an insurance company about widow benefits and making claims on renter and life insurance policies. The renter’s policy was only a few days old and was worth up to $31,000. The life insurance policy, which was two years old, was worth $600,000 and was worth $31,000.
Nikki Entzel called her insurance company
on January 3, 2020, the day her husband’s body was recovered. After she spoke to a salesman on Dec. 26, 2019, the rental insurance coverage went into effect on Dec. 27, 2019. ATF agent Derek.
Four days before the murder, on December 27, 2019, Nikki is said to have bought a $26,000 renter’s insurance policy and been named the only beneficiary of Chad’s $600,000 life insurance policy, according to Law & Crime.
On Dec. 30, 2019, Chad was seen leaving a bowling alley around 10:30 p.m. Police think that he was killed between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m. on December 31.
The prosecutor said Chad was shot twice with a shotgun and that Nikki and her boyfriend took one of the shell casings and planned to make it look like Chad killed himself.
Law & Crime said that Chad’s coworkers were worried when he didn’t show up to work after the holiday. They called Nikki, but she was too busy to help look for her husband, they say.
Suicide he said
In 2020, Dr. William Massello was the state medical examiner. He said that Chad Entzel died from “devastating” gunshot wounds.
The doctor said that one went in below and behind his left ear and caused “multiple fractures of the skull and…severe damage to the brain.” The other one went into Entzel’s left tricep, out of his shoulder, and into his head. Massello stated the rounds from 3 feet distant would have killed or injured Chad Entzel.
Nikki and Howard are said
to have put a heater near Chad’s bed soon after he was killed so that it would catch fire. The prosecution says that when it didn’t work, the two went back at some point to move the heater and try again.
Prosecutors say that Nikki called 911 on January 2, 2019, to report a possible fire at her home in Bismarck.
Law & Crime says that Chad was found naked on the floor of his bedroom, and a small fire was found on top of a furnace in the basement. Prosecutors said that Nikki and Howard’s last, failed attempt to set the house on fire was the furnace fire.
Whiskey bottles were also found at the scene of the crime. However, the prosecution’s opening statements said that Nikki, who had previously said that her husband was an abusive alcoholic, had put these bottles there on purpose.
Investigators also found other red flags at the crime scene, such as where the gun was found and the fact that Chad had been shot twice.
Law & Crime says the prosecutor said in her opening statements, “You can’t kill yourself by shooting yourself twice with a shotgun.”
She also said, according to the Tribune, that Nikki wasn’t too busy to ask an insurance company about the payouts in the days after her husband was killed.
According to the Bismarck Tribune, ballistics couldn’t prove who really killed Chad, even though Nikki told police at first that Howard did it.
The Associated Press says that before Howard admitted to the charges, he asked that he and Nikki be tried separately. The Bismarck Tribune says that Nikki’s lawyer, Thomas Glass, won’t make his opening statements until later in the trial.