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.

KX News broadcast summary:

Tuesday, September 27

Hour 8, Day 1

The former Medical Examiner also reported evidence of both a firearm and fire damage. Photographs of the damage were also provided. The damage to the shoulder was confirmed as a gunshot wound entering from the left upper arm. Further photographs of Chad’s injuries were shown via photographs, and evidence was shown, including X-Rays, hair, bone, and gun shells.

Blood alcohol content in the body was shown to be .069. There was no chronicle of substance or alcohol abuse reported in the body. Following the Medical Examiner’s reports, court was adjourned for the day. After the jury left the room, the judge spoke to the defense lawyer regarding an objection made but overruled during the showing of the Medical Examiner’s photographs.

Hour 7, Day 1

Chad’s mother testified after the break, who recalled that Chad never showed signs of abuse in either his relationship with Nikki or a previous marriage with another woman, and reported Chad got along very well with Nikki’s son Christopher. Nikki apparently stated that Chad had been drinking, but the witness also stated there was no indication of this. The witness stated that Chad and Nikki had driven to a family Christmas — the last time she had seen Chad — in separate cars the last time they met, with Nikki leaving much earlier than Chad saying that she wanted to go to the gym on her way back home.

Chad’s younger sister was also called to the stand, who recounted her own positive experiences with Chad and stated that Nikki mentioned at one point that the couple had been getting into verbal fights, with Nikki mentioning that Chad had issues with drinking at some point, but never seeking treatment. Chad’s sister described his personality when intoxicated as ‘giggly’. Chad’s sister reported that Nikki had mentioned bruises to her, but reported Nikki had stated they were caused as a result of blood cancer.

A physician assistant and county coroner was called to the stand following the family testimonials, who reported that there were signs of trauma and injury on the body (gunshot sides to the back-left of the head and an injury on the left shoulder). The coroner’s investigation, while not precise, estimated the body to have been deceased for 36 hours. The cause of death is believed to be the gunshot wound.

The former North Dakota Medical Examiner then appeared, who performed the autopsy on Chad’s body, who also confirmed that the body’s decomposition was accelerated by a hot environment.

Hour 6, Day 1

Another voice mail between Entzel and her home insurance provider was shared with the jury. Entzel was stated to be renting the property in which Chad Entzel died. Following this, a voice mail between Nikki and the insurance company adjuster was played, in which she once again states that there were problems with the furnace, claiming it had problems relighting. During the call, Nikki stated that her 18-year-old son was autistic, seemingly out of nowhere. The insurance company stated they were going to send a team to look at the home. Entzel said she has copies of all of the receipts for her jewelry. Nikki declined to join an investigation group from ServiceMaster in looking over the property. A break was then called until 3:05 p.m.

Hour 5, Day 1

Lunch break ends. KX’s news feed was cut out for roughly five minutes following lunch break. A voice mail related to Entzel’s jewelry insurance policies was shared with the jury.

Hour 4, Day 1

Lunch break begins. Court will resume at 1:30 p.m.

Hour 3, Day 1

The officer noted that Entzel would provide unnecessary information. A special agent and certified fire investigator with ATF then testified, where he went over the floor plan of the house. The investigator noted that there were two non-communicating fires (two fires started independently of each other). The fires were reported in the master bedroom and the basement. The basement furnace’s interior insulation was reported to be in good condition, which heavily implied to the ATF that they were intentionally set.

Hour 2, Day 1

Further talks with the firefighter had him detail the condition of the body, as well as how the department handled the fire. A lack of smoke detectors in the house was noted. Following a ten-minute break, the state called another worker from the Bismarck Fire Department, to the stand, who noted that the cover of the furnace appeared to have been taken off and propped up. A member of the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Office at the time of the accident reported that he was introduced to Nikki Entzel. The officer stated that her demeanor was ‘normal’, as if he had run into her at the supermarket, and that she showed him photos of physical abuse (a bruised arm) by her husband, as well as expressing her desire to leave him. The officer did state that he felt the pictures were pulled out almost as if they were prepared, and he was unable to tell any date, time, or who was portrayed in the photos. Entzel also outlined her plan to ‘leave’ for Austin, Texas, with the officer, as well as the fact that she had a job interview lined up. She also requested officers get two Amazon boxes from the car parked in the house’s driveway, which contained two cell phones. The officer further noted that she seemed to ‘flip a switch’ and become emotional when on the phone in the vehicle. Entzel stated that she was not staying at the home due to troubles with the furnace.

Hour 1, Day 1

The Judge began the day by explaining some of the basic rules of court and how the trial process works. He proceeded to discuss the charges and defined multiple court terms that would be used in the proceedings. An overview of the case and all discovered evidence was also given, with opening statements delivered. The first witness interviewed was a 911 communications operator, who reported that an unusual call came through at approximately 5:20 p.m. and another early in the afternoon. The 5:20 p.m call was also presented to the jury. An interview with a member of the Bismarck Fire Department, who responded to the fire, also begun.


9:00 a.m.: The trial of Nikki Entzel has started. Judge Douglas Bahr presiding. The judge is giving instructions to the jury. The instructions outline, among other things, the charges against Entzel and the legal definitions of the charges.

7:30 a.m.: Opening statements are expected today in the trial of Nikki Entzel, charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the January 2020 death of her husband, Chad Entzel.

Jury selection took place Monday, September 26. Today, jury instructions are expected to be given, the jury will be formally seated and opening statements by the prosecution and defense will be delivered.

The court session is expected to begin around 9:00 a.m.

Prosecutors claim 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.

Nikki Entzel was arrested and charged January 7, 2020.

Earl Howard was captured January 9, 2020, as he tried to cross the U.S.- Canadian border in Michigan.

On October 22, 2021, Howard pled guilty to arson, conspiracy to commit arson, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to tamper with physical evidence.

As part of a plea deal, Howard received a 50-year sentence with 25 years suspended.

Nikki Entzel’s trial is expected to run about two weeks. She is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit arson and conspiracy to tamper with physical evidence. She faces a life term in prison if convicted on the charges.

The trial will be live-streamed through the KX website.


Previous news in the Entzel case: