Daniel Wacht, convicted in the murder and beheading of Kurt Johnson in Griggs County, has lost his appeal before the North Dakota Supreme Court, according to a court opinion released Thursday.
Wacht, who is serving a life sentence at the state prison, argued that law enforcement officials did not have probable cause to search his van and his home, where they eventually found Johnson’s head and a couch cushion and pillow stained with Johnson’s blood.
The court said that in each case, there was enough information to establish probable cause even if, as Wacht claimed, individual pieces of information were insufficient. For example, Wacht said, the fact that Johnson was last seen alive with him in his van should not give police cause to search the van. Wacht said he dropped Johnson off at a bar.
But the court said other pieces of information that might be insufficient alone were sufficient when taken together.
Prosecutors said Wacht, now 32, shot Johnson after a night of drinking Dec. 31, 2010, then cut off his head. He was convicted Aug. 1 in state district court in Cooperstown.
Wacht’s court-appointed attorney, Steven Mottinger of Johnson, Ramstad & Mottinger in Fargo, appealed to the Supreme Court later that month. Mottinger could not be reached at his office late Thursday afternoon.
Johnson’s body still has not been found.