Hours of police interview shown in murder-arson conspiracy trial; investigators say it shows series of lies

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 7:10 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The state says they’ve connected Nikki Sue Entzel to Earl Howard, a man who already pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill Nikki’s husband Chad. On the second day of trial, prosecutors laid out a timeline of what they say happened on December 30, 2019, when Chad Entzel was killed, and January 2, 2020, when his body was found in a burning home. Now, they’re building their story against Nikki, saying she was involved in the planning of the crime.

The originally six-hour interview between Nikki Sue Entzel and law enforcement was played for the jury Wednesday. The video was recorded on January 7, 2020, 5 days after Chad Entzel was found murdered and his body burned.

“Chad did not die in the fire. Chad was killed by a gunshot,” said the investigator. “What?” asked Nikki during the January 7, 2020 interview.

Investigators say the video shows Nikki’s “sporadic” emotions and shifting stories as they tried to uncover what happened.

“So, you got up around five, got dressed and went to work?” asked the investigator. “Mmhm,” said Entzel. “What about the trip out to the [scene of the crime] at 6:30?” asked the investigator. Nikki then mumbles something indistinct on the recording. “But that’s what I asked you, I asked you what you did, and you just skipped all that,” said the investigator in the 2020 interview.

Throughout the 2020 interview, Nikki maintained her innocence.

“I don’t know what happened,” said Nikki during the interview.

Although the victim’s family testified Chad was not an aggressive person, Nikki brought up abuse she said she suffered at his hands. She said she was going to leave him.

Finally, she told investigators Earl Howard was wholly responsible.

“So, that was Earl and Chad and not that mystery guy?” asked the investigator. “Yes,” said Nikki. “So, they argued, and then what?” asked a second investigator. “I went out into the car and waited,” said Nikki during the 2020 interview.

Nikki’s attorney pushed back against how long investigators interviewed Nikki without an attorney present.

“How long did the ‘good cop bad cop’ routine go on that particular day?” asked Glass. “As far as...” “You and officer Arenz,” said Glass.

That initial interview lasted six hours. The jury watched it in a condensed three-hour recording.

Nikki is charged with conspiring to commit murder and arson, so the state will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she made plans in furtherance of the crimes. She’s presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Earl Howard turned state’s witness earlier this year. He’s expected to testify against Nikki during the trial.

Nikki’s attorney, Thomas Glass, has not yet made a statement on behalf of his client.

The trial will resume Thursday at 9 a.m. Your News Leader will be live streaming the proceedings on our social media pages and website.