The North Dakota Supreme Court Reverses at Least Five Murder-Related Convictions this Year

Local News

After appeals to the North Dakota Supreme Court, at least five high-profile cases were sent back to district courts this year.

Four of these cases involved murder-related charges. All are awaiting a resentencing or a brand-new trial, and there may be more.

KX News sat down with a local criminal defense attorney, to find out if our district courts are falling behind, or if this is simply a part of the process.

Attorney Jackson Lofgren says many of these cases stand alone and had different issues that ultimately forced them back down to the district courts.

Lofgren shares, “The only real connection that they have is that in all three cases, the Supreme Court really looked at what was done below, and really applied the statutes and the constitutional provisions to make sure that the law was followed in all three cases.”

But, take the Bowman County murder case, where defendants Chase Swanson and Madison West were both found guilty of a 2016 murder. In July, the Supreme Court reversed that decision, and they will get the chance at a new trial. Lofgren says the issue here was the district court judge combined two totally different charges, making them both wrong.

He adds, “It’s something that they probably need to be paying more attention to.”

The attorney tells me this has happened a few times.

Lofgren explains, “There have been a number of cases in the last few years. A few years ago, there was a case where the Supreme Court said ‘conspiracy to commit reckless murder’ can’t be a crime. ‘Attempt to commit a reckless act’ can’t be a crime, so it goes sort of in line with those cases.”

He says back in 2013, several opinions made by the Supreme Court and even federal courts, tightened the rules around combining charges, and it’s part of the reason these cases are being overturned.

Lofgren adds, “It’s really changed how a lot of cases get charged out. Whereas before somebody might have said, ‘Well I think we can add these two crimes together’. Now prosecutors really have to look at it and say, ‘No these two crimes can’t be added. I’ve got to go with a different crime or just one.”

Ultimately, Lofgren tells me Supreme Court appeals are a part of the process. It simply means the higher court is doing its job.

He shares, “I think it just comes in waves, and the majority of cases do get affirmed, so maybe that makes it that much more unusual when we do get ones that do get reversed.”

Lofgren also mentioned that in the last ten years, several new district judges and Supreme Court Justices have taken the bench. But, he didn’t ultimately see this as a big factor in the recent reversals.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Recent Videos

St. Mary's Volleyball

Thumbnail for the video titled "St. Mary's Volleyball"

Electronic Pulltabs

Thumbnail for the video titled "Electronic Pulltabs"

Linton HMB Volleyball

Thumbnail for the video titled "Linton HMB Volleyball"

Mandan Volleyball

Thumbnail for the video titled "Mandan Volleyball"

Monday, September 16th, 2019 - KX Storm Team Evening Forecast - Dave Holder

Thumbnail for the video titled "Monday, September 16th, 2019 - KX Storm Team Evening Forecast - Dave Holder"

Bismarck High Girls Golf

Thumbnail for the video titled "Bismarck High Girls Golf"

Pregnancy/Aspirin

Thumbnail for the video titled "Pregnancy/Aspirin"

Minot State University

Thumbnail for the video titled "Minot State University"

Grain Elevators

Thumbnail for the video titled "Grain Elevators"

Crash Involving Mandan Officer

Thumbnail for the video titled "Crash Involving Mandan Officer"

Capitol Upgrades

Thumbnail for the video titled "Capitol Upgrades"

Mandan Traffic Lights

Thumbnail for the video titled "Mandan Traffic Lights"

Blooming Fall

Thumbnail for the video titled "Blooming Fall"

KX Storm Team Full Evening Forecast w/Tom Schrader

Thumbnail for the video titled "KX Storm Team Full Evening Forecast w/Tom Schrader"

Haunted History

Thumbnail for the video titled "Haunted History"

Downstream Flooding

Thumbnail for the video titled "Downstream Flooding"

Vape Wear

Thumbnail for the video titled "Vape Wear"

KX Storm Team #OneMinuteForecast w/Tom Schrader

Thumbnail for the video titled "KX Storm Team #OneMinuteForecast w/Tom Schrader"

July Oil Numbers

Thumbnail for the video titled "July Oil Numbers"

Your Monday Morning One Minute Forecast 9/16

Thumbnail for the video titled "Your Monday Morning One Minute Forecast 9/16"
More Video

KX News Trending Stories

Don't Miss