Bullets, Tire Tracks Submitted in Stensaker Trial

MINOT (KMOT-TV) The prosecution will soon be done with its testimonies in the Ryan Stensaker murder trial.

Day four of the trial began differently from yesterday, going back to testimonies of one of the rifles confiscated from the home of Ryan Stensaker.

It was a busy day of evidence from start to end, including an appearance from one of the actual tires from Stensaker's Cadillac Escalade that was destroyed by a fire.

LaMonte Jacobson, a forensic supervisor for the State Crime Lab, guided prosecutors through his evaluation of a 277 Remington rifle found in Stensaker's home.

He showed how markings on a test bullet matched a bullet found at the crime scene.

LaMonte Jacobson: "What I've done here is brought the evidence, item 13, compared to the test fire, item 26 D."

Defense Attorney Steven Mottinger challenged the marking, saying it didn't prove that the bullets were shot from the gun—only that they were in the gun.

Steven Mottinger: "The copper lead case bullets that you recovered, you can't positively say they were fired from that 722 Remington you examined, correct?"

Jacobson: "Yes."

Mottinger: "The shell casings that were found at the scene, you can't positively say that they were fired from that weapon?"

Jacobson: "Yes."

Witnesses also testified on the events of April 30, 2013, when a fire destroyed Ryan Stensaker's Cadillac Escalade near the Epping Dam in Williams County.

Deputy Fire Marshall Ken Sisk pointed out how the front right panel and tire of the Escalade were hardly damaged, ruling out an engine fire, and the discovery of remnants of a gas can inside the car.

Ken Sisk: "this would tell me that the fire originated somewhere in, farther back in the cab area."

The defense challenged if it was possible to know how the fire started.

Steven Mottinger: "there's nothing in the burn marks or the fire damage that can definitely establish that an accelerant was purposely placed in those areas, correct?"

Sisk: "Correct."

Mottinger: "And you cannot positively testify that this vehicle was intentionally set on fire, can you?"

Sisk: "No."

Tuesday's testimonies wrapped with a familiar face, as Levi Cabler of the Williams County Sheriff's Department testified again. The prosecution had Cabler point out similarities between the tire tracks in the snow at the Epping Dam, the Sjol residence, and the dump site where Jack Sjol's body was found.

The prosecution even rolled one of the intact tires from the Escalade into the courtroom.

But the defense challenged the connection.

Mottinger: "You can't be positive that the Escalade that had the tires on it at the Epping Dam was responsible for the prints at the Sjol residence or the dump, can you?"

Levi Cabler: "I can't, no."

The defense also noted the popularity of the Cooper tires on the vehicle.

The prosecution says they hope to have their witnesses wrapped up sometime Tuesday morning.