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Valley City judge set to hear murder conspiracy case

BISMARCK — North Dakota District Judge Jay Schmitz of Valley City was named this week by the state Supreme Court to hear the murder conspiracy case against Grand Forks attorney Henry Howe.

Howe is slated for a preliminary hearing and/or arraignment March 28 in Grafton, when he can enter a formal plea to the Class AA felony count that carries a top prison sentence of life without parole.

David Thompson, one of Howe’s defense attorneys, had filed a motion to have state District Judge Richard Geiger of Grafton removed from the case. Other judges in the northeast part of the state, where Howe, 72, has practiced criminal defense law for decades, indicated to state officials last week that they did not wish to hear the case.

Schmitz works in the Southeast Judicial District.

Howe is charged with conspiring with two convicted drug felons, including one who was his client, to kill a female informant who worked with investigators to obtain evidence against Howe’s client, Paul Lysengen, during an alleged drug buy last May in Minto.

Howe remains free after posting $100,000 bond.

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