Remembering Chad Entzel: family speaks of healing after victim’s wife found guilty

Chad Entzel's family
Chad Entzel's family(KFYR-TV)
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 2:26 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - After two hours of deliberation a jury found Nikki Sue Entzel guilty of conspiring to kill her husband Chad Entzel, conspiring to commit arson and conspiring to tamper with evidence. This comes after six days of trial.

After the verdict was read, Chad Entzel’s family hugged. They say the ending to the nearly three-year process to bring justice for Chad has been bittersweet.

“Every time anyone went to court for any of this.... it’s just heart wrenching and hard on a body. And moving on, we talk about Chad all the time. My sons remind me of him quite a bit, so we try to talk about him as much as possible, so they don’t forget him,” said Lori Kraus, Chad Entzel’s sister.

This outcome came after the state called 44 witnesses to testify as they outlined a case against Nikki. In her closing argument Tuesday, state’s attorney Julie Lawyer focused on an “agreement” between Nikki and Earl Howard to commit the crimes and collect on insurance. Testimony revealed Nikki had emailed Earl insurance documents two days before the murder.

“If you don’t have a plan to kill the husband and set the house on fire, why does he need a copy of the renter’s insurance?” asked Julie Lawyer as she spoke to the jury.

Defense attorney Thomas Glass called no witnesses in the case and only spoke to the jury during closing arguments. Then he tried to raise doubt on the state’s case.

“We don’t have the biggest piece of this puzzle: an alleged co-conspirator. You would think that would be the most important witness on the stand,” said Thomas Glass to the jury.

Earl Howard pleaded guilty and was sentenced for his role in the crime earlier this year.

State’s attorney Julie Lawyer said she was pleased with the presentation of the case. It was a case that was never about who pulled the trigger, but who was involved in the scheme.

Now amid tears of relief, the family says it’s their time to heal. They want Chad to be remembered as who he was, not who Nikki said he was:

“He was so kind, didn’t have a bad word to say about anybody, always willing to give a helping hand. Really, he was my first friend,” said Kraus.

The family was in the courtroom every day of the trial.

Judge Douglas Bahr ordered a presentence investigation be completed before he sentences Nikki Sue Entzel.