On Thursday, It took the jury about two hours to find Chase Swanson and Madison West guilty of Nicholas Johnson’s murder at the El Vu Motel in the Summer of 2016.
The prosecution proved its argument that Swanson’s acts on Johnson were not in self defense.
Swanson testified on Tuesday that he was protecting West from being raped by Johnson, but neither he or West had a single scratch on them.
During his closing argument, ND Assistant Attorney General, Jonathan Byers, went as far as to say that Swanson’s testimony should be dismissed by jurors, because it was outrageous and made no sense.
The prosecution also proved that West was complicit in Swanson’s actions.
The day before, West said that she was innocent in the murder of Johnson and tried to protect him.
She even agreed with most of Todd Pashano’s testimony a week earlier, who was a neighbor of West and Swanson at the motel, and was a witness to the violence in the room that night.
Byers pointed out that West only agreed with the parts that indicted Swanson.
Pashano also said that he witnessed West beating Johnson, and she was laughing “hysterically”.
Byers also said that West failed to give a good explanation as to why she sent a text to her sister that said, “I will be in jail or in Mexico”.
The defense attorneys tried to argue that their was no clear evidence to find Swanson and West guilty.
Thomas Murtha, Swanson’s attorney, stated that his client’s fingerprints were not on any of the objects used to beat Johnson, and none of the bloody footprints around the body belonged to him.
But the prosecution convinced the jury that Pashano had no reason to lie about what he witnessed on August 19, 2016.
At the end of the day they found justice for Nicholas Johnson’s family
“Seeking justice for Nicholas Johnson has been my greatest honor as a prosecutor, and I think that’s what we did today,” said Stephanie Pretzer, Bowman County State’s Attorney.
Sentencing is scheduled for a later date, but the prosecution said that life in prison without parole is definitely on the table.
Swanson was also convicted of felony firearm possession, and he and West were also found guilty of theft of property, of Nicholas Johnson’s truck.