Bismarck woman accused of conspiring to murder husband to head to trial

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 12:22 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - After multiple delays, a Bismarck woman accused of conspiring to murder her husband will face a jury.

Prosecutors say events in late December 2019 and early January 2020 that left one man dead and a Bismarck home ablaze were the results of a love triangle gone wrong, a botched cover-up, and a plot to cash in on a renter’s insurance policy.

Police were called to the scene of a fire on January 2, 2020. There they say they found 42-year-old Chad Entzel dead with at least two gunshot wounds to the head and two separate burning fires in the home.

Police arrested 43-year-old Earl Howard and the victim’s wife, 40-year-old Nikki Sue Entzel. Howard pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit murder and arson, facing the victim’s family for the first time this past February.

“You stole something so precious to us,” said Chad Entzel’s sister, Lori Kraus, at Howard’s Feb. 14 sentencing hearing.

Howard’s attorney said the plea agreement strengthens the state’s case against Nikki Sue. Nikki Sue, who according to the affidavit told police Howard stepped in when her husband was aggressive to her, maintains her innocence.

Nikki Sue Entzel’s trial has been delayed five times. Most recently it was delayed in February when her then-attorney withdrew from the case.

At the pretrial hearing Monday, South Central District Judge Douglas Bahr noted any plea agreements should be submitted at least 10 days prior to trial to keep the case on track.

“As you know, this is the top priority,” said Judge Bahr.

If convicted of conspiring to kill her husband, Nikki Sue could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Attorneys will begin selecting a jury of 12 people and four alternates on Sept. 26.