A Canadian man who once pleaded not guilty to several counts connected to the murder of a Bismarck man in January of 2020 has now pleaded guilty.
Forty-three-year-old Earl Howard of Ontario, Canada entered a plea agreement that would sentence him to 25 years in prison with additional suspended sentences for three of the counts if he violates probation.
Friday, he pleaded guilty to four charges: arson, conspiracy to commit arson, conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to tamper with physical evidence.
The crime stems back almost two years when Howard and Nikkisue Entzel were accused of killing her husband Chad Entzel in Bismarck over an alleged love triangle and plans to profit off life insurance.
Autopsy reports show Chad was shot in the head, and in efforts to cover up the killing, the house was set on fire.
Because the change of pleas from Howard were not entered prior to 10 days before the trial was set to start, Judge Douglas Bahr did not yet officially accept the pleas.
But he asked the family members of the victim, who attended the hearing, to come forward and speak if they had any opposition to the agreement, but no one did.
Both Howard and Entzel were initially supposed to be tried together on Monday, but the judge canceled it and said he’d tentatively accept the plea agreement pending a presentence investigation, which could take a few months.
If after the presentence investigation, Judge Bahr doesn’t accept the plea agreement, Howard could take back his guilty pleas and still go to trial.
Nikkisue Entzel is accused of three conspiracy charges for murder, arson and evidence tampering.