This is a continuing story and will be updated as new details develop. 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. Other articles are also available here.
Tuesday, August 10
4:25 p.m.: Judge David Reich recesses the trial for the day. The trial will resume Wednesday morning, August 11 at 8:30 a.m.
4:12 p.m.: Direct examination of Alex Droske continues. (Prosecuting attorney Gabrielle Joy Goter continues to introduce exhibits into evidence featuring work-up videos, stills from videos and side-by-side comparison images worked on and created by Alex Droske).
Droske says his purpose in amassing all the component pieces was to make it easier for the jury to consider the evidence and comparisons of evidence.
Droske says the easiest way to present all the photo and video evidence to the jury was to compile it all into a PowerPoint presentation. He also printed out physical copies of all the slides used in the presentations.
4:11 p.m.: Judge David Reich calls for another stretch break for one minute.
3:44 p.m.: Continuation of direct examination of Alex Droske. (Prosecuting attorney Gabrielle Joy Goter continues to introduce exhibits into evidence featuring work-up videos and stills from videos worked on and created by Alex Droske).
3:43 p.m.: Judge David Reich calls for a stretch break for one minute.
3:10 p.m.: Continuation of direct examination of Alex Droske by prosecuting attorney Gabrielle Joy Goter. (Goter is continuing to introduce exhibits into the record for use at the trial. Witness Alex Droske is having to verify and validate the authenticity and accuracy of each of the documents being introduced as being exhibits he has either worked with or created. The defense is given an opportunity, if they so choose, to object to the admission of the exhibits. If objections are raised, the judge would then decide on the admissibility of the exhibit. Goter is introducing into evidence USBs containing Droske’s “work up” copies of the videos acquired from various surveillance cameras of businesses in Mandan, Center ad Washburn. They contain still shots, spotlighted videos, video enlargements and other work on the videos to highlight the relevant information. Goter is also introducing printed copies of still images that Droske created).
3:09 p.m.: The trial of Chad Isaak has resumed, Judge David Reich presiding.
2:44 p.m.: Judge David Reich has called a 20-minute afternoon recess. The trial will resume at 3:05 p.m.
2:14 p.m.: Witness recalled –– Alex Droske, Bureau of Criminal Investigation special agent. Droske previously testified on August 5. Says his job was to cut down, or “crop,” the length of the videos to the relevant portions. He also highlighted certain relevant objects in the videos to make them easier to see, a task called “spotlighting.” Testifies he did multi-view presentations of videos from April 1, 2019 and March 25, 2019 to create side-by-side views to highlight the similarities between the videos. The video content is not altered, just placed in a side-by-side presentation. Droske testifies he also created “still images” from the videos, single image snapshots from videos.
Droske says he created or help create “field of view” documents of the security cameras at RJR that show the visual areas covered by each security camera. Also created “field of view” documents for security cameras at businesses such as Big O Tires that provided relevant surveillance videos from April 1, 2019 and March 25, 2019.
Droske says he analyzed video from Big O Tires from April 1, 2019 and March 25, 2019 and prepared side-by-side comparisons of the videos to show the “astonishing similarities” between the actions depicted on the two videos.
(The prosecution is currently going through the process of entering into evidence a number of exhibits into the record so they can be used during the trial. Witness Alex Droske is having to verify and validate the authenticity and accuracy of each of the documents being introduced. The defense is given an opportunity, if they so choose, to object to the admission of the exhibits).
2:07 p.m.: Witness called — Ben Nordsven, Tri-Energy Cenex systems administrator. Says he provided surveillance video from the Mandan Cenex from April 1, 2019 and March 25, 2019 to law enforcement.
1:58 p.m.: Re-direct by prosecuting attorney Gabrielle Joy Goter. Henry says it’s not accurate that the person in the April 1, 2019 and March 25, 2019 videos is not the same person. Says the person’s movements and walk and other elements were similar.
Henry says the timeline notes points of interest related to the investigation and is not a record of the full start and end times of particular videos. The timeline notes at what time images of the suspect and the suspected vehicle appear. If the video continued on with nothing related to the investigation, those times were not on the timeline.
Henry says he does include in the affidavit the suspect is wearing orange-colored clothing and that he specifically mentioned to the judge the suspect was also seen wearing dark-colored clothing.
In the affidavit, there was a comparison between Chad Isaak’s height on his driver’s license, 6′ 1″, and a height determined from the surveillance videos of the subject.
Says videos from businesses that did not have any evidence were not included on the April 1, 2019 and March 25, 2019 linear timelines. They were not included because there was no relevance to the investigation
1:57 p.m.: Cross-examination of Tyler Henry by defense attorney Luke Heck continues. Henry says a number of former RJR tenant interviews occurred in August and October 2019.
1:56 p.m.: Judge David Reich calls for a one-minute stretch break.
1:18 p.m.: Cross-examination of Tyler Henry, North Dakota Patrol and Probation officer by defense attorney Luke Heck. Henry put together the linear timelines and maps tracking the movement of the suspect and route of the suspected white Ford F-150 pick-up truck using surveillance videos provided by businesses from Mandan to Washburn.
Henry says the first time the suspect is seen walking is about 5:22 a.m. on April 1, 2019. Says there is a 15-minute break in the timeline between some images in the timeline. Heck notes the time discrepancies between the video timestamps and the world time. Also points to time gaps between portions of the linear timeline. Henry testifies other people were in the area in the videos reviewed, but none matched the description of the suspect.
Attorney Heck points out other gaps in the linear timeline related to the white truck, noting there’s a 58-minute gap in the timeline at one point and other lengthy gaps in the timeline.
Reiterates he believes the person in the March 25 and April 1 videos is the same person. Heck asks, “What if you’re wrong?” Henry responds, “I believe it is the same person.”
Attorney Heck notes, in the timeline, there are four businesses in a row that did not have surveillance cameras. Henry says that is true. Heck then says that means there is not a continuous record of the suspect’s movements. Henry says, “Yes.”
Henry applied for search warrant affidavits of Chad Isaak’s person, residence and truck. Helped prepare four search warrant affidavits.
Heck asks if Henry failed to state in the affidavit requests that the person seen in the McDonald’s parking lot and on the videos of the person entering RJR was wearing different clothing. Henry replies that the affidavit request was based on the description provided.
Says he did not put in the search warrant affidavits that there were gaps in the linear timeline or that there were other people in the area of RJR on April 1, 2019. Henry says the facts relevant to the investigation were put in the search warrant affidavit requests.
Henry says he collected a number of videos from area businesses for March 25, 2019 and April 1, 2019. A number of the businesses where videos were collected were not included in the linear timeline.
Received the results of a search warrant for Chad Isaak’s cellphone records. Helps to identify location and incoming and outgoing calls. Says he did not review the results of that search warrant.
1:16 p.m.: The Chad Isaak trial is backing session, Judge David Reich presiding.
11:54 a.m.: Judge David Reich recesses the trial for the lunch break. The trial will resume at 1:15 p.m.
11:02 a.m.: Witness called — Tyler Henry, North Dakota Patrol and Probation officer. Details training and experience in law enforcement. Worked for the Mandan Police Department on April 1, 2019. Testifies he is familiar with the neighborhoods and streets of Mandan.
Helped with the investigation of the RJR killings on April 1, 2019. Arrived at RJR around 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Met with 6 RJR employees who were outside to look for possible leads in the case. Did preliminary interviews with the employees to help possibly identify a potential suspect. After those initial interviews, Henry assisted with searching, a “canvas search,” of Memorial Highway to look for potential evidence. Says nothing was recovered in that search. Says he did follow-up interviews with former tenants, witnesses. Also did a follow-up interview with Angela Davis, who worked at McDonald’s. She had provided a description of a suspicious person walking to a white Ford F-150 pickup truck parked in the McDonald’s parking lot.
One of Henry’s tasks was to review surveillance videos provided to law enforcement. Estimates he reviewed 23 different business videos provided. He was looking for a specific suspect. He reviewed the Big O Tires surveillance videos from April 1, 2019, and March 25, 2019. He says he reviewed those two dates because Ben Zachmeier of Big O Tires noticed similar activity on the two dates. Henry also noticed a similar pattern of activity by an individual in the video and a vehicle being driven. Considers that important because it could mean preplanning or rehearsal on the part of the suspect.
Henry says he used the appearance of a suspect in the RJR video to help with looking for and identifying the individual and the suspect vehicle in other surveillance videos. Says he was looking for a suspect and trying to establish a timeline involving the suspect. Says there were differences in the timestamps on the different surveillance systems, so he worked to reconcile the different timestamps with a single world time. Says he worked to establish a linear timeline for both April 1, 2019 and March 25, 2019 involving the suspect and the suspect vehicle. He handled matching the surveillance video times with world time to create a single linear timeline for the key videos and images from video used by law enforcement.
Helped develop GIS satellite photo maps showing entrance and exit routes of the suspect based on the surveillance videos.
Prosecuting attorney Gabrielle Joy Goter is currently going through the process of introducing the timeline and map evidence into the record. She is laying the foundation for introducing the evidence by asking Tyler Henry questions about his role in producing the timelines and maps and the accuracy of those items.
Henry says he was using the description of a masked individual wearing gloves, dark pants, dark boots, a camouflage ski mask in reviewing the video surveillance. Once they identified a matching suspect and suspect vehicle, they then looked for those elements in the various videos relevant to that person and vehicle.
Says investigators attempted to follow the suspect white pickup truck from the McDonald’s parking lot from the Big O video to the Ron Lowman video and from there along to the Flying J truck stop video. From Flying J, the vehicle is observed in surveillance video in Center, North Dakota. It is then seen in Washburn surveillance video.
Says investigators followed the RJR vehicle driven from RJR to the parking lot of Indigo Signs using the Midway Lanes surveillance video. Then followed the individual from the RJR vehicle to the white pickup truck parked in the McDonald’s parking lot. Says the videos from March 25, 2019 nearly mirror the person, vehicle and movements of the individual and vehicle in the April 1, 2019 videos. Believes, based on the videos, the individual in the April 1 and March 25 videos is the same person.
After he developed the linear timeline and maps, he turned those elements over to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigators.
Says he helped draft search warrants and arrest affidavits based on the video evidence.
11:01 a.m.: Judge David Reich allows the jury to take a short “stretch break;” that is, to simply stand up for a minute and stretch.
10:54 a.m.: Witness called — David Mees, owner of Heart River Storage in Mandan, ND. One of his storage units is located southwest of McDonald’s and another is near Bill Barth Ford. Says he was asked to provide surveillance videos from the two units for April 1, 2019 and March 25, 2019. Says the cameras are in color and are always on. The main focus by law enforcement was on the video from the location near McDonald’s.
10:53 a.m.: Re-direct by Gabrielle Joy Goter. Bubel says the road to Hensler could also go to Washburn.
10:51 a.m.: Cross-examination by defense attorney Jesse Walstad. Bubel testifies the video is synced with world time. The timestamps are based on world time. Says there are numerous roads that branch off between Highway 48 and Highway 200. Roads go not only to Washburn but to Stanon, Hazen, Beulah and other communities.
10:45 a.m.: Witness called — JD William Bubel, vice-president and CIO at Security First Bank in Center, ND. Located outside Highway 25. The business was asked to provide surveillance video from the morning of April 1, 2019. The bank has 12 security cameras. They are always on. Some of the cameras face Main Street, another faces Highway 48. The Highway 48 camera video is what was provided to law enforcement. Says the video shows a white truck passing by the bank.
10:43 a.m.: Cross-examination by defense attorney Jerry Walstad. Clarke testifies that some of the cameras scan and some don’t move. Cameras cover all around the business because people and activities take place all around. Says Old Highway 10 is about 300 yards from the business building.
10:36 a.m.: Witness called — Bobbi Clarke, Freeway 147 Flying J truck stop west of Mandan on I-94. The business can also be accessed by Old Highway 10. Says the business was asked by law enforcement to provide surveillance video from the morning of April 1, 2019. Flying J’s surveillance cameras show the business’ parking lots and the highway that goes by the business. The video is in color and the cameras are on 24 hours a day. Some of the cameras automatically pan side to side to provide a complete view of the business’ large parking lot.
10:34 a.m.: Cross-examination by defense attorney Jerry Walstad. Jangula testifies the camera was focused on the gas pumps and store and not on Main Street surveillance. Doesn’t recall if there are obstructions in the video to the view of Main Street, such as the gas pumps or road construction signage.
10:24 a.m.: Witness called — Jodi Jangula, former manager of Tri-Energy Cenex on Main Street, Mandan. Says the business provided surveillance video from the morning of April 1, 2019. Testifies the video is in color and runs about 5 minutes. The camera view shows the front of Cenex and facing Main Street. Some question as to whether the video contains footage from April 1 and March 25.
10:21 a.m.: The Chad Isaak trial has resumed, Judge David Reich presiding. Addresses some trial housekeeping matters.
9:59 a.m.: Judge David Reich calls a morning recess for 20 minutes. The trial will resume at 10:20 a.m.
9:57 a.m.: Re-direct by prosecuting attorney Gabrielle Joy Goter. Isaak says he drives a white Cadillac. Says he can identify his car by distinguishing characteristics. Says he wasn’t asked by defense attorney Walstad to count white trucks with specific characteristics, just to count any “white trucks.” He counted trucks with and without toppers, two-doors, four-doors, trucks traveling east and west on Main Street and others.
9:46 a.m.: Cross-examination by defense attorney Jesse Walstad. Isaak testifies he watched the video about three weeks ago. Testifies the video is about 8 minutes. Walstad plays the video for Isaak and asks him to count how many white trucks pass by in the video during those 8 minutes. After watching the video, Issak says he counted 24 white trucks pass by.
9:41 a.m.: Witness called — Chris Isaak, Railway Credit Union, Mandan. Chris Isaak is not related to the defendant, Chad Isaak. The credit union main entrance faces Main Street on Mandan. Located next to the Mandan Dairy Queen. The business was asked to provide surveillance video from the early morning hours of April 1, 2019. Isaak says he downloaded the video and provided it to law enforcement. Says the business cameras are high definition color cameras and record 24 hours a day.
9:40 a.m.: Cross-examination by defense attorney Jesse Walstad. Barnes says raw video was provided to law enforcement.
9:35 a.m.: Witness called — Terry Barnes, owner of Ron Lowman Motors, Mandan (now Barnes Auto Sales). On April 1, 2019, rovided law enforcement with surveillance video from April 1, 2019 and, later, March 25, 2019. Says the cameras run 24 hours.
9:34 a.m.: Re-cross-examination. Nikola says any kind of motion could trigger the cameras to record. Says doesn’t know if the gap was caused by an absence of motion or not.
9:33 a.m.: Re-direct. Nikola says the system starts when it detects motion. Says that could explain the 40-second gap.
9:30 a.m.: Cross-examination by defense attorney Jesse Walstad. Nikola says he did not personally provide the video to law enforcement. Says he has never removed video from the surveillance system. Walstad plays video from Schmidt Auto Sales surveillance camera from 7:05 a.m. April 1, 2019 and notes there is about a 40-second gap in the video.
9:23 a.m.: Witness called — Andrew Nikola, former Schmidt Auto Sales employee, Mandan. Schmidt Auto Sales was asked to provide any surveillance video of April 1, 2019. Nikola recalls the video was in black and white. Believes the time of day was early morning. Says the video was motion-activated, meaning the cameras start recording when there is movement detected. Says there was no gap in the particular video provided to law enforcement.
9:21 a.m.: Cross-examination by defense attorney Jesse Walstad. Asked for video from about 6:30 a.m. on, any video showing an individual walking to and from RJR. Testifies saw one person walking through Midway Lanes parking lot to and from RJR.
9:16 a.m.: Witness called – Darin Helbling, manager of Midway Lanes, Mandan. Asked on April 1, 2019 to provide any surveillance video from Midway Lanes cameras. Cameras face Memorial Highway and face the RJR building. Says was asked for video from 6:30 a.m. on through the day of April 1, 2019. Midway Lanes cameras are in color.
9:14 a.m.: Cross-examination by defense attorney Jesse Walstad. Says he honestly can’t remember what dates and times he provided to police. Says Bill Barh’s surveillance cameras cover most of the exterior of the lot.
9:06 a.m.: Witness called — Travis Barth, Bill Barth Ford, Mandan. Says the front of the business faces Memorial Highway. A few days after the April 1 RJR killings, was asked for business surveillance footage. Says he believes he was asked for video from April 1 and a few days earlier, but couldn’t remember the specific dates requested by police. Says he provided “hours and hours” of surveillance footage.
9:04 a.m.: Re-direct by Gabrielle Joy Goter. Zachmeier testifies April 1 was a nice day. Didn’t see snow on the vehicles in the April 1, 2019 video he reviewed. In the March 25, 2019 video, could see the person more clearly as he walked to the Big O parking lot.
9:00 a.m.: Cross-examination by defense attorney Jesse Walstad. Says police told him to look at the business’ surveillance video from the early morning of April 1, 2019. Testifies the distance between the Big O camera and McDonald’s was about 300 yards. Testifies he knew the person leaving McDonald’s and returning two hours later on March 25 was the same person by the solid black clothing that person was wearing. Could not make out any other detail of the individual.
8:39 a.m.: Witness called — Ben Zachmeier, former Big O Tires co-owner, Mandan. On April 1, 2019, was asked by police to review the business’ surveillance cameras to see if anyone was in the area at the time of the killings. Videos are always in color, day or night. Testifies he reviewed the video and saw a truck come down Memorial Highway, go into the McDonald’s parking lot and saw an individual dressed in all black and wearing a face mask get out of the truck and that person walked toward the Big O Tires parking lot and headed toward the back of the property line and head east. Says it was about 5:30 a.m. Later, about an hour later, saw the person come back along the property line going west and back to the McDonald’s parking lot and the truck. testifies he arrived for work each day at 6:15 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Recalls the truck being a white Ford F-150, early 2000s model. Says provided the video to police.
Says it seemed odd the individual walked over a snowpile rather than walk around the dry pavement next to the pile. Says it appeared it was someone who had walked the route before. Reviewed earlier surveillance and one week earlier, on March 25, saw on the Big O surveillance video the same or very similar truck pull into the McDonald’s parking lot and park in the same spot at nearly the same time as on April 1, 2019. Says the person was wearing the same black pants, black bomber jacket and face mask. Says the person got out and walked down the strip. Later, the person walked back in nearly the same manner as on April 1, 2019. Says, overall, the person’s movements and actions were very similar to what he saw of the person on April 1, 2019.
Says after the person sat at the truck a little bit, then drove east on Memorial Highway down to Ron Lowman Motors, turned around in that business’ parking lot, got back onto Memorial Highway and drove west.
8:37 a.m.: Cross-examination by defense attorney Jesse Walstad. Testifies she estimates the distance between the Highway 200 and the store is about a full football field. The camera is set to observe the parking lot
8:33 a.m.: Witness called — Brittany Price, River Age employee at Washburn, ND. Direct examination by prosecuting attorney Gabrielle Joy Goter. Testifies her business was asked for their surveillance video on April 1, 2019. The video captured the road in front of the business parking lot facing Highway 200. She has watched the video.
8:32 a.m.: The trial of Chad Isaak has resumed, Judge David Reich presiding.
8:00 a.m.: Day 5 of testimony in the Chad Isaak trial, Day 7 in the trial overall, is expected to start at 8:30 a.m. The trial started Monday, August 2. Jury selection took two days. Testimony began August 4.
Aug. 8, 2021: Chad Isaak trial: August 9, 2021
Aug. 6, 2021: Chad Isaak trial: August 6, 2021
Aug. 5, 2021: Chad Isaak trial: August 5, 2021
Aug. 4, 2021: Chad Isaak trial: August 4, 2021
Aug. 3, 2021: Chad Isaak trial: August 3, 2021
Aug. 2, 2021: Chad Isaak trial: August 2, 2021
Aug. 3, 2021: Chad Isaak trial: Meet the cast
July 1, 2021: Chad Isaak trial to be held in Morton County Courthouse
Apr. 1, 2021: 2 years later no motive established in slaying of four
Jul. 2, 2020: Judge denies move of venue in Chad Isaak’s murder trial
Dec. 12, 2019: Change of Judge in Chad Isaak case
Dec. 11, 2019: Chad Isaak wants a new Judge
Nov. 14, 2019: Chad Isaak asks for suppression of evidence, change of venue
Nov. 13, 2019: Man charged in Mandan killings challenges search warrants
Aug. 9, 2019: Accused murderer Chad Isaak pleads Not Guilty
Jun. 10, 2019: Police look to Facebook, bank records in Mandan murders
Apr. 19, 2019: RJR seeks normalcy in wake of 4 killings
Apr. 17, 2019: Co-owner of business where 4 slain says she has no clue why
Apr. 12, 2019: Mandan homicide suspect to appear in court in May
Apr. 6, 2019: Tonight, We Remember the Victims
Apr. 5, 2019: Official Charges Filed Against Mandan Murder Suspect
Apr. 5, 2019: Mandan Police release statement following Chad Isaak arrest
Apr. 5, 2019: Washburn man arrested for 4 counts of AA felony murder
Apr. 4, 2019: The Anguish of Loss: Cobb Daughters Speak Out
Apr. 4, 2019: What We Know and Don’t Know About the Mandan Mass Murder
Apr. 3, 2019: Mandan Police search field near Memorial Highway
Apr. 3, 2019: Residents speak out on the quadruple homicide in Mandan
Apr. 1, 2019: Mandan Police investigating bodies found