Canadian sentenced to 25 years in prison for murder of Bismarck’s love triangle – Grand Forks Herald
BISMARCK – A 43-year-old man was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Monday February 14 for his involvement in the death of a Bismarck man two years ago.
South Central District Court Judge David Bahr ordered Canadian resident Earl Howard to serve at least 21 years behind bars as part of a deal in which he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder, arson and two other felony charges. Howard will have to spend at least 21 years in prison, or 85% of his 25-year sentence, before being eligible for parole. He will also receive credit for the approximately two years he has already spent in prison.
Howard and Nikki Entzel were arrested two years ago in connection with the death of Chad Entzel, 42, who died in late December 2019. Nikki Entzel and Chad Entzel were married. Authorities were called to a residence in Bismarck on January 2, 2020, in response to a house fire. Inside they discovered the body of Chad Entzel, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds and whose cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head, an autopsy later found.
Investigators say Nikki Entzel and Howard started two fires at the residence to get rid of evidence linking them to Chad Entzel’s death.
Nikki Entzel, 40, is charged with conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to arson and tampering with evidence for her alleged involvement in her husband’s death. She has pleaded not guilty and a 10-day jury trial is due to begin Feb. 28 in Bismarck.
Investigators say the motive for Chad Entzel’s murder involved a love triangle and plans to receive his life insurance funds, of which Nikki Entzel was a beneficiary.
In his decision to accept the plea deal on Monday, Bahr said he thought 25 years was “a significant length of time,” noting that Howard would not be eligible for parole until he was around 64. He also said an “important consideration” was that Chad Entzel’s family were supportive of the plea deal.
“They’re supporting the plea deal, and that would put at least half of this case behind them where they have answers, and they don’t have the risk that the case won’t be resolved with some measure of justice.” , Bahr said.
Defense lawyer Philip Becher said it was remarkable that Howard “takes responsibility for his role in the situation” and that the 25-year sentence was not a “slap on the wrist”. Burleigh County State’s Attorney Julie Lawyer said the prosecution believes the plea deal and jail time were acceptable because Howard had no criminal record and was prepared to to plead guilty.
Howard did not make a statement during the sentencing hearing. However, Chad Entzel’s sister and mother have made tearful statements about the heavy toll Chad Entzel’s death has taken on them.
“You have devastated our lives and my family is on the verge of exhaustion,” said Lori Kraus, sister of Chad Entzel, speaking to Howard in the courtroom.
Chad Entzel’s mother, Deb Entzel, told Howard that he created a “wound so deep it will never, ever heal.”
“A mother should never outlive her child,” she said.
Readers can contact Forum reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America staff member, at [email protected]