Hour 7, Day 4
Jangula continued to explain how the torch kit purchased by Earl worked. An examination of a torch kit found at the scene by Jangula noted that there was no use of the welding tip, and that both tanks of chemical (which would have been included and filled at no charge with the torch at Prax Air) were empty. The welding tip did not come attatched to the torch. It was worth noting that acetelyne, one of the chemicals in the tanks, is highly flammable.
Court was adjourned for the day following Jangula’s testimony, after the judge reminded the jury of proper case etiquette and rulings.
Hour 6, Day 4
Sales receipts for jewelry were shown to the court in Hour 6, including those for pairs of earrings, rings, and a wedding set.
Anthony Ortega, an HVAC technician for AJ Thompson, then testified and showed documents relating to the company’s response to a service response from Nikki to look at the furnace. Ortega reported that the controls of the furnace had been locked, and that he saw no propane present at the furnace. Upon checking the regulator of the propane tank, he found that the tank was manually shut off. He had a teenage boy in the permises sign the service report. Ortega reported receiving another service request previously from Nikki in November, though he did not go to the call, but was familiar with the work done. The technician assigned to the job reported replacing the flame tube, and that the furnace was working properly afterward.
The state then called Lance Geigle, who formerly worked as a service technician with Mark’s Heating and Air, reported during his time responding to service calls, that there was nothing abnormal noted with the furnace. He did state he had to remove the cover for service, but put it back on before leaving.
Justin Dakota, who sold Earl a torch kit (carrying case and tote for a torch), also took the stand and showed the receipt for the kit. Full bottles were provided for the chemicals in the torch kit at the establishment. A short break was called following Dakota’s testimony.
Joe Jangula from Prax Air begun to testify after the break, and identified the torch as one with a cutting tip, commonly used when working with metal.
Hour 5, Day 4
When lunch break ended, Kyle Davis, major for the Parking Department at the Bismarck Airport, was called to the stand, who presented parking tickets from the airport.
Kevin Iverson, a former worker of Community Options in Bismarck, then took the stand. Video footage from the office showing Nikki Entzel entering and leaving work on multiple days was shared for the court, though a one-hour time difference was noted between the time listed in the footage and the actual time was reported. No video from January 1 was reported due to a holiday closure.
Michelle Kunz, a Wal-Mart representative, replayed store footage from the Bismarck Wal-Mart, showing Earl and Nikki entering and leaving the establishment multiple times.
Rick Krefting, a representative from Riddle’s Jewelry , stated that he aided Nikki and another person in obtaining a record of receipts, as they stated they were moving to Texas. Video of the duo’s visits to the jewelry store were also provided to the court.
Hour 4, Day 4
Court adjourned for lunch.
Hour 3, Day 4
A video was played of Chad entering and exiting the bowling alley was shown to the court.
Cameron Fleck, owner of Universal Security Services, then testified, and explained how security cameras like the ones in the home worked. Administrative logs showing login and logout times for the security camera app, almost all from the account associated with Nikki Entzel, were shared with the court. It was also noted that privacy mode was turned on for the driveway on December 31st. Security camera footage for the driveway was also shown, which featured Earl’s truck arriving multiple times at the house.
Following the video, the state called Wade Nordick with the Bismarck Police Department to the stand. Nordick reported his own experience investigating the residence, though nothing outstanding was identified during a wellfare check. Following Nordick’s testimony, a lunch break was called.
Hour 2, Day 4
The footage of Earl and Nikki’s hotel visit continued, where Earl could be seen smoking a cigarette and the duo entered and exited the hotel frequently. It’s of note that these cameras only showed the outside of the building and front desk. Photos of the hotel room’s key reader also showed when different individuals entered the room at different times.
A short break was called, and when it resumed, David Satler, accountant for Rob Satler (the landlord of the Entzels’ property) was brought to the stand. He stated that when they met regarding the property, Nikki asked if she could install security cameras, and that she was the one who signed the lease. When asked about the security cameras, Nikki stated that she moved from Brooklyn where she was shot at. Satler recalled Nikki had complained about troubles with the furnace.
David’s father and the home’s owner, Rob Satler, then testified regarding the fire. Nikki had called to report water heater troubles and furnace problems shortly after the couple (who were the first family living in the establishment) moved in.
Darrin Heinert, a former worker with Midway Lanes, then began to recount his own experiences with Chad.
Hour 1, Day 4
Day 4 began by calling Matthew Heinz, Nikki’s brother, to the stand. While at the stand, Matthew stated that he did not see Nikki too often, and that he had a meeting with her and Earl in the days leading up to the incident. During the meeting, she stated that Chad abused her and left bruises on her legs (no bruises on her neck or arms were visible), though Matthew was unable to see them. Matthew noted that Nikki and Earl were seemingly affectionate when leaving the meeting place in a white Chevrolet pickup (later identified to be Earl’s vehicle). He also stated that Nikki’s hotel room seemed overly-stocked, including pans, clothes, and an entire fridge full of food.
Heather Schwartz, who worked the the company organizing Chad’s business, who confirmed that she was notified by Nikki that Chad had died in a house fire, and proceeded to ask about policies regarding Chad’s work and life insurance. It was noted that Chad had the company’s basic live insurance policy of roughly $120,000. Reportedly, Schwartz heard from Nikki before being notified by Interstate Power.
Brandi Bieber, a former front desk worker at the Staybridge Suites where Nikki stayed, explained the stay information from Nikki’s visit, which revealed that the room’s guest was listed as Earl Howard. The hotel room was listed to contain one bed. No smoking rooms were permitted in the Staybridge. The guest arrival and departure dates were also changed multiple times. Nikki also reportedly approached Brandi to ask if there were video cameras in the hotel to find a misplaced piece of jewelry.
Jeanette Leiss, manager of the Staybridge, was called to the stand after being asked to pull keycard information and recordings from the hotel’s security cameras. Footage of Nikki and Earl’s visit was then provided to the courtroom.
9:00 a.m.: Day 4 of the trial is now underway.
7:30 a.m.: The trial of Nikki Entzel is expected to continue starting at 9:00 a.m., this morning in Burleigh County District Court, Judge Douglas Bahr presiding.
Nikki Entzel is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, among other charges. Prosecutors argue 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.
On Thursday, the prosecution called a number of witnesses who knew Chad Entzel, including his first wife of 17 years, friends he bowled with and supervisors from where he worked. All testified that he never exhibited aggressive behavior, drank excessively or was generally unreliable. This testimony was, in part, aimed at refuting claims by Nikki Entzel.
Crime scene investigators testified that arson was the cause of the fire at the Entzel home, set in two different locations.
The trial began September 27 with jury selection, followed by the prosecution’s opening statement the next day. The defense has deferred its opening statement to a later time.
The trial is being live-streamed through the KX website.
Previous trial coverage