MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — Not guilty.

That’s the plea entered by Nichole Rice, accused of the 2007 murder of Anita Knutson in Minot.

As Nichole Rice’s defense team waited to enter the courtroom, Rice and her husband, Dallas, entered the courtroom, hand in hand.

On March 16, Rice was arrested for the 2007 murder of her then-roommate, Anita Knutson.

Rice has been out on bail since.

The preliminary hearing of the 15-year-old cold case began with the state calling Detective Mikali Talbott from the Minot Police Department to the witness stand.

Detective Talbott told the courtroom of the inconsistencies in Rice’s alibi over the years.

“Over the investigation, Nichole’s statements have been inconsistent from the start. They’ve changed drastically from not seeing Anita to seeing Anita, to not being in Minot at all over the weekend, to now coming back to Minot on Saturday night when she left the bar,” asked Mikali Talbott, a detective for the Minot Police Department.

Detective Talbott says that several DNA samples were taken and tested to be compared to the DNA on the murder weapon.

“And any of those samples that were sent for comparison, were any of them included, excluded, incapable of being excluded,” asked Ward County State’s Attorney, Tiffany Sorgen.

“All of the male profiles that were sent have been able to be excluded from the profiles developed from the knife. The only profile that cannot be excluded or DNA sample that has been submitted is Nichole’s,” responded Talbott.

Detective Talbott also says a witness came forward years ago claiming Nichole Rice had allegedly confessed to the murder while drunk at a party in 2008 or 2009.

She said, “There was a tip submitted back in 2008 or nine regarding a statement made at a party, where Nichole had actually confessed to the murder. It was unknown to law enforcement at the time or to me, I guess. That was until 2022 when William May had been identified as the individual who provided that tip.”

After cross-examination by the defense, the Judge ruled there was sufficient probable cause to proceed with the charges.

The courtroom waited for Rice to speak.

“Again the charge is murder, class AA felony. How do you plead ma’am, guilty or not guilty,” asked Judge Richard Hagar.

“Not guilty, your honor,” Rice responded.

“The court will accept your plea of not guilty at this time,” said Judge Hagar.

Rice’s pretrial conference is scheduled for November 16.