Attorneys in the case of a man accused of killing four people at a Mandan business are set to argue whether investigators followed the correct procedures in collecting evidence.
The hearing Wednesday at the Morton County Courthouse comes 15 months after the bodies of RJR Maintenance and Management co-owner Robert Fakler, 52; employee Adam Fuehrer, 42; and married co-workers Lois Cobb, 45, and William Cobb, 50. were discovered at the business. Authorities say they were shot and stabbed.
Chad Isaak, of Washburn, has pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder and two other charges.
Investigators say Isaak carefully planned the gruesome killings, then tried to avoid detection by picking up shell casings, changing his clothing, and cleaning a knife and gun with bleach. But Isaak's attorneys say authorities didn't get proper search warrants due in large measure to false statements in the applications.
Defense attorneys want evidence from searches of Isaak's home, his business, his truck, his social media accounts and his electronic devices thrown out.
The original defense motion to suppress evidence states that the warrant applications were overbroad and didn't make specific allegations, most important the failure to reference any cellphone, tablet or computer possessed by the suspect. That taints other searches in the cases, the motion said.
Isaak's lawyers argued in court documents that if the false and misleading statements are taken out of police affidavits, there's no way to tie the suspect shown on surveillance video inside the business to the person who got into a truck that belonged to Isaak. They cite what they believe to be conflicting stories on clothing worn by the suspect and misleading statements on video evidence.
“Mr. Isaak respectfully requests that this Court trust its own eyes over the unsupported protestations of the State,” defense attorneys wrote.
Prosecutors counter that any inaccuracies were minor and the warrant applications were not only proper, they were reviewed by “multiple judges.” They say the “totality of all the factual layers” in the documents meets the requirements of probable cause.
“It is not a close call, though even a close call would be construed in favor of the issuing magistrate's decision," prosecutors said in court documents.
Isaak's attorneys are also asking to have the trial moved, saying the defendant has “already been convicted by the media as a ‘mass murderer’ to the Morton County public." Prosecutors say there has not been ”pervasive publicity" about the case and compared it to the proceedings of William Hoehn, whose trial on accusations that he helped kill a Fargo women whose baby was cut from her womb was not moved.
Isaak has been jailed on $1 million bond since his arrest a few days after the killings. He lived in a mobile home park managed by RJR Maintenance and Management, but police have not linked that to the slayings or established a motive. Trial is scheduled for Nov. 30.
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