This is a continuing story and will be updated as new details develop during the trial. Keep checking back for the latest information available. Updates from previous days are at the end of this report. Live streaming of the trial is here.
Hour 7, Day 5
Cross-investigation of Entzel’s data continued into hour 7, where more information regarding the timeline of events leading up to the death, including hotel key card swipes and security camera footage. A report from the hotel also states that Nikki and Earl were frequently asking for new room keys.
In light of what is to be discussed tomorrow, according to the judge, court was adjourned early for the day.
Hour 6, Day 5
A further look at the torch kit purchased by Earl Howard noted that neither of the tips had been used, but the welding tip was connected to each of the hoses.
Further messages and documents from Nikki’s phone, including one-way tickets for Nikki from Bismarck to Minneapolis from Orbtiz Travel, were recovered and shared with the court. A Youtube Video was also shown to the court found in Nikki’s search history, featuring an advertisement where a woman was killed in a car explosion. The complete phone extraction continued as only one mention of ‘drinking games’ was reported in the entire phone. A break was then called.
Hour 5, Day 5
The examination of Thompson’s investigation into Entzel’s information continued, where he discovered correlations between times Nikki Entzel’s phone app accessed the security cameras in the house and times the cameras were down. Thompson also noted that messages from Entzel’s phone contained messages to other individuals of a romantic nature.
Selections of the full extractions from phones found at the crime scenes were displayed, including a photograph of Nikki Entzel and Cassandra Howard, Earl’s daughter, as well as romantic messages between Earl and Nikki. Web searches from the phone were also brought up, including searches for travel sites and Mandan Funeral homes (these were notably searched for before Nikki would have known of Chad’s death). Documents from Wells Fargo showing a joint account between Nikki and Chad Entzel, with note given to the lack of purchases on alcohol, were shared with the court. Another purchase was of notice on the joint account, from an adult store in Minneapolis.
Hour 4, Day 5
Court adjourned for lunch break.
Hour 3, Day 5
More photographs of the scene when Thompson visited were provided, and the propane tank itself was brought into court. A search of Chad’s wallet and checkbook found in the house noted that there was a check written for a payday loan on Jaunary 3rd prior to Chad’s death. Originally, an autopsy was requested but denied, stating the case was originally believed to be a suicide. Searches of the phone data were also reported.
An image of the house from the front was also observed, as well as images of the door sensor and security cameras in the Entzel house. A lunch break was called following the overview.
Hour 2, Day 5
Following the recess, Michelle Mundy, a friend of Nikki Entzel, testified, saying she had never seen Chad act abusive or change moods when drinking. She did state that Nikki had told Michelle about arguments and ‘drinking games’, as well as showed her pictures of bruises (though she stated there were photos of bruises on Nikki’s arm, and one of her leg where Chad injured her, though Mundy was unable to identify if it was Nikki in the photos. She also sent Mundy a photo of her with a black eye, claiming that Chad had hit her. Mundy also claimed that Nikki had explained several medical condition to her that would have caused Nikki to bruise easily. Mundy also stated that she told Nikki to leave the relationship, and eventually that Nikki said she was panning to leave for Texas with Earl, who she sometimes referred to as ‘Roy’. Images of text messages between Nikki and Mundy were provided to the court in which Nikki expressed her belief that Chad was having an affair.
Mundy stated that Nikki had reported Chad’s abuse to her doctor, and had a plan to leave Chad, including ‘Roy’ having people watch Nikki and charges being pressed. Nikki also mentioned in the messages that Chad was deep in debt from gambling, and he intended to use her to help pay the debt off, stating that Roy had ‘at least ten’ people watching over her. Nikki also referred to Chad as ‘the big Kid’ and her brother as ‘Fatty’ in the messages. In more texts, Nikki mentioned ‘gaining a daughter’, which was explained to refer to Earl’s daughter.
The state then called Brian Thompson, deputy sheriff with the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department, who explained the case from his point of view. During his home search, Thompson noticed a cell phone and tablet on the couch, as well as medications. Photos of his own visit to the crime scene were shared with the court.
Hour 1, Day 5
The court first called Daniel Blood, a detective and former patrol officer who discussed a home search he conducted of the Entzel residence. He reported a bottle of Crown Royal was found in the bedrom of the establishment, as well as bloodstains. Samples from the home, including bottles and carpet samples, were also provided to the court.
This officer was also involved in a search of Nikki and Earl’s hotel room, where he recounted finding medications and a pair of tenis shoes in a backpack that he reported a blackish-brown substance on them, though he was unable to identify what this substance was.
Matthew Wingenbach, special agent for the ND Bureau of Criminal Investigation, who explained the process of searching a phone and discontinuing wi-fi and bluetooth in the process. When provided with at least three phones from the crime scenes, data was processed and given to the Burleigh County Sherrif’s Department. Documents were then shared of the information gained from the data extractions on the phones, though a cross-examination was not possible.
A brief recess was called following Wingenbach’s testimony to address technical concerns.
9:00 a.m.: The trial is under way.
7:30 a.m.: The trial of Nikki Entzel is expected to continue starting at 9:00 a.m., this morning in Burleigh County District Court, Judge Douglas Bahr presiding. This is the second week of the trial. The prosecution is still presenting its case.
Nikki Entzel is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, among other charges. Prosecutors argue Nikki Entzel, along with her alleged lover, Earl Howard, Ontario, Canada, had conspired to kill Chad Entzel for life insurance money and, after murdering him, set fire to the Entzel home with the body inside.
Investigators said Chad Entzel died from two gunshot wounds and that he was apparently killed days before the January 2, 2020 house fire.
In October 2021, Earl Howard pleaded guilty to arson, conspiracy to commit arson, conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to tamper with physical evidence. In a plea deal, Howard received a 50-year sentence, but will serve 25 years. He may testify in the Entzel trial, although that is not certain.
The trial will be live-streamed through the KX website.
Previous trial coverage