BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — Nikki Entzel, accused of conspiring to kill her husband, Chad Entzel, in December 2019 for life insurance money, has been found guilty of the charge by a jury in her Bismarck trial Tuesday.
The jury also returned verdicts on two other charges:
- Conspiracy to commit arson: Guilty
- Conspiracy to tamper with physical evidence: Guilty
Jury deliberations began at roughly 3:00 and took approximately two hours.
Burleigh County District Court Judge Douglas Bahr ordered a presentence investigation. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
Prosecutors argued at trial that 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.
To bolster their argument, prosecutors presented phone logs, surveillance videos, police interrogations, bank records, photos and other logs and videos aimed at outlining a coordinated series of actions on the part of Entzel and Howard leading up to and after the killing of Chad Entzel.
In October 2021, Earl Howard pleaded guilty to arson, conspiracy to commit arson, conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to tamper with physical evidence. In a plea deal, Howard received a 50-year sentence, but will serve 25 years.
Howard did not testify at the trial.
Neither did defendant Nikki Entzel. In fact, the defense didn’t call any witnesses. Instead, during closing arguments, the defense argued the state showed a lot of evidence documenting a crime, a lot of inference and speculation, but no hard or specific evidence that proved Nikki Entzel engaged in a conspiracy to kill her husband and then set fire to her home. The evidence, if anything, the defense suggested, points to Earl Howard, and he did not appear or testify at the trial.