The State Supreme Court reversed Conspiracy to Commit Murder convictions against two people found guilty of a 2016 murder in Bowman.
The court’s opinion on Chase Swanson and Madison West came down today, reversing the conviction, and remanding the case back to district court for a new trial.
Swanson’s attorney Thomas Murtha says the inclusion of “knowingly” in the jury instructions allowed the jury to convict him of conspiracy to commit murder without having an intent to cause death. State Law upheld by the Supreme Court in past cases says a conspiracy to commit murder charge requires the state to prove intent to the death of another human being.
The Supreme Court agreed with Swanson’s argument that the term “knowingly” allowed the jury to convict him of conspiracy, without him having the intent to kill.
The conspiracy conviction against Madison West has also been sent back to trial, because of the decision in the Swanson case.
West and Swanson were convicted in February of 2018, in the August 2016 beating death of Nicholas Johnson.
Both were given sentences of life, without the possibility of parole.
The Bowman County State’s Attorney office says they have no comment at this time on if they will retry the case.
Two other convictions in the same case against Swanson and West still stand. Swanson and West were also found guilty of two Class C felonies: Theft of property and firearm possession