Nichole Rice, the woman accused of the murder of Anita Knutson 15 years ago in Minot, made her initial court appearance at 2 p.m. Thursday in Ward County.
Judge Richard Hagar ordered Rice’s bond as cash of $120,000 or corporate at $250,000.
A corporate bond is something typically given by a bail bondsman. In this case, Rice would have to pay $250,000 but give 10% of that to the bondsman, which she will never get back. The bondsman will then cover the $250,000 for the court, and if Rice appears in court, she gets the $250,000 back — but if she skips, the bondsman will go after her for the money.
Prosecution in the case asked Rice be held on a $1 million cash bond, comparable to bonds of suspects in what they considered to be similar cases. Rice’s lawyer requested a $250,000 bond with the option to post 10% down.
On Wednesday, Minot police arrested Rice following a break in the cold case — a break an affidavit revealed Thursday.
Law enforcement said they received “numerous” tips over the years since Knutson’s murder; one being that Rice admitted to William May, while at a party, to killing Knutson. The affidavit says Rice and May dated for some months in either 2008 or 2009, and at a party with their friends during this time period, Knutson’s murder was brought up.
May described Rice as being “belligerently drunk” and said Rice told him she “did it.” He later tried to get Rice to talk about that again while sober, but she wouldn’t, according to the affidavit. For years, police said they weren’t able to identify who Rice made the admission to, but in March 2022, they identified the person as May.
Rice’s preliminary hearing is set for April 21 at 3 p.m. She’s charged with one count of murder in the death of Knutson on or about June 2 and 3, 2007.
Rice was Knutson’s roommate at the time.
Knutson’s father found her body on the afternoon of June 4, 2007, when he went to her apartment to check on why she hadn’t responded to phone calls or shown up for work.
After discovering her body, the police were called. When they arrived at the scene, they found Knutson in her bedroom, lying face down on the bed, covered with a large housecoat.
A pocketknife with dried blood on it was found on the bed.
Rice was not at the home when the body was discovered.
According to an affidavit, cell phone records indicated Knutson was texting with a friend in the early morning hours of June 3 and sent her last text to the friend at 4:48 a.m. No other communication by Knutson was reported after that final text.
Her death was later ruled a homicide from two stab wounds that caused her to bleed out.
Rice told police she was at her family’s farm by Velva when Knutson was killed. Authorities said statements by Rice and her family members were inconsistent and, in some cases, contradicted each other.
This year, law enforcement officials said they re-interviewed a number of people, including Rice. Based on that and other information, an arrest warrant was then issued for Rice.