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North Dakota couple gets life without parole in murder case

Madison Beth West, 28, and Chase Duane Swanson, 23, were sentenced to life in prison without parole for conspiracy to commit murder. The charges stem from the motel murder of Nicholas Johnson in Bowman County in 2016. Submitted photo.

DICKINSON, N.D. — A couple convicted of killing a man at a Bowman County motel was sentenced Monday, Aug. 27, to life without parole.

Chase Duane Swanson and Madison Beth West, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder by a jury trial in February in the beating and strangulation death of Nicholas Johnson of Rhame.

The family of the victim listened intently, tissues in hand, as Judge James Gion pointed to the convicted couple's "significant criminal histories" and the inconsistent arguments made during the trial relating to self-defense.

The couple was provided an opportunity to address the court before sentencing commenced—an offer West declined.


In a prepared statement, Swanson addressed the court briefly asking for leniency saying "I feel horrible about what happened," before retaking his seat without addressing the victim's family seated behind him.

As the judge issued his sentence to West of life without parole, a sudden and noticeable gasp of relief could be heard coming from the family of the victim who wore "Justice for Nick" pins on their shirts. The judge then issued the same sentence for Swanson.

Johnson, 23, who was found dead in a room at the El-Vu Motel in Bowman on Aug. 20, 2016.

The attorneys for Swanson and West declined to comment on the ruling but expect to appeal the decision in the coming weeks.