Trial of Jack Sjol's Murder Begins

MINOT (KMOT-TV) Jury members heard some emotional witness testimony today in the trial of a Williston man charged with murder.

Ryan Stensaker is accused of shooting Jack Sjol on Sjol's ranch in April of last year and dumping his body several miles away.

The prosecution and the defense gave their opening statements today.

The prosecution laid out what they saw as overwhelming evidence, including the discovery of bullet shells, blood, and even a torched vehicle.

The defense asked the jury to not hold preconceived notions going into the trial.

“Numerous tire tracks where a vehicle had been backed up to the blood spots, to the shell casings, to the teeth, to the crown, to the glasses,” says prosecutor Nathan Madden.

“Ryan Stensaker is innocent,” says his defense attorney, Steven Mottinger. “The presumption that he is innocent is absolute and will remain so throughout the course of this trial.”

Eight people took the stand on day one, including emotional testimonies from Jack Sjol's longtime girlfriend Kelly Blomberg and her son Kellan, on the moments leading up to Sjol's disappearance and the ensuing frantic search.

Prosecution: “After the 8:15 call did you have any other contact with Jack that evening?”

Kelly Blomberg: “No, that was the last time I spoke with Jack. That was the last time I have ever heard his voice.”

Later in her testimony...

Kelly Blomberg: "I was thinking he must have been in the field, maybe kicking a cow or a horse... So I walked the acreage looking for Jack."

Prosecution: "And did you find anything at that time?"

Kelly Blomberg: "I did not."

Kellan Blomberg: "I seen his glasses, and the hair stood up on my neck, and I said, excuse my language, I said, 'Get the ____ cops out here now!'"

Several officers and investigators also took the stand, describing to the jury the evidence found at the scene.

The prosecution and defense asked questions on the nature of the blood stains at the scene and the pattern of the tire treads left in the dirt.

“A drag of blood would be comparable to what we saw in the photograph earlier,” says Sgt. Det. Amanda McNamee of the Williams County Sheriff’s Department, “where you might have a collection or a pool of blood with what appears to be lines or streaks.”

Before testimony wrapped for the day, the defense cross-examined McNamee.

Defense: "You ever found a motive behind this thing at all, or are we just in the dark in terms of why?"

McNamee: "We do not have a motive, no."

McNamee is expected to be called to the stand again. The Ryan Stensaker trial continues Thursday morning before breaking for the weekend.