Days before scheduled re-trial, Madison West pleads guilty to conspiring to commit murder

Crime Tracker

A woman who was set to be re-tried for conspiring to commit murder after the North Dakota Supreme Court overturned her guilty verdict has admitted to the 2016 crime.

Court records show Madison West pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the charge of Conspiracy to Commit Murder — a class AA felony.

A criminal judgment was filed with Southwest District Court on Wednesday, sentencing West to 50 years in prison, with 15 years suspended, followed by three years of probation.

The sentencing comes more than four years after Nicholas Johnson was beaten to death in Bowman. West was charged along with Chase Swanson with conspiring to kill Johnson. The two were found guilty in February of 2018 and sentenced to life in prison.

Then in July of 2019, the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the convictions, sending the case back to Southwest District Court for re-trial. The Supreme Court’s decision hinged on the inclusion of the word “knowingly” in the jury instructions, which Swanson’s attorney argued allowed the jury to convict him of conspiracy without him having the intent to kill.

Both West and Swanson were scheduled to be re-tried in September until West changed her plea to guilty on Tuesday.

Court records show Swanson had a status conference Wednesday morning. He is awaiting a new hearing date.

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