Wacht appealing conviction in researcher killingCOOPERSTOWN, N.D. (AP) — A 31-year-old man sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars for shooting and beheading a North Dakota State University researcher is appealing his conviction.
COOPERSTOWN, N.D. (AP) — A 31-year-old man sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars for shooting and beheading a North Dakota State University researcher is appealing his conviction.
Daniel Wacht is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for killing Kurt Johnson of Cooperstown.
His attorney, Steve Mottinger, indicated he will appeal state District Judge James Hovey's denial of the defense's attempt to suppress evidence found in Wacht's rented house, the Grand Forks Herald reported (http://bit.ly/RB1vAu).
Mottinger argued previously that the probable cause provided by investigators to get three warrants to search Wacht's van and home was insufficient.
On the third search, Johnson's severed head was found buried under two feet of dirt in the crawl space in Wacht's basement, with a bullet hole in the forehead.
Prosecutors said Wacht shot Johnson after a night of drinking on Dec. 31, 2010, then cut off his head. Johnson's body hasn't been found.
Investigators said Wacht, who was known as "Machine Gun Head" for a tattoo above his right ear, killed Johnson to show the Aryan Nation he could run a local group. Wacht was a fugitive from charges in California at the time of the killing.
A jury in Cooperstown deliberated for two hours on April 24 before convicting Wacht of murdering Johnson. Hovey sentenced Wacht on Aug. 1.