Suspect pleads not guilty and claims search warrants were unlawful.
A man charged in the grisly killings of four people at a North Dakota property management company argued in a filing Wednesday that authorities failed to obtain proper search warrants involving cellphone location and other searches and evidence should be thrown out.
Chad Isaak, 45, has pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder in the April 1 shooting and stabbing deaths at RJR Maintenance and Management in Mandan. Isaak lived in a mobile home park managed by the agency in Washburn, about 35 miles north (56 kilometers) north of Mandan. Police have not identified a motive in the killings.
Isaak argues that law enforcement failed to properly obtain warrants for his home, his business, his truck, his social media accounts and his electronic devices. He says even if the state suspected him of committing the killings, the warrant applications were overbroad and failed to allege specific allegations, most importantly the failure to reference any cellphone, tablet or computer possessed by the suspect. That does not meet requirements for probable cause and taints other searches in the cases, the motion reads.
Eric Nelson, a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney, said it’s not a frivolous argument and the court “should ultimately chew on it” and analyze the data that was requested.
“I think the distinction on whether or not the motion has merit depends upon what they were specifically asking the cell providers to give them,” Nelson said. “Was it specific to one individual and one phone number or was it broader and capturing anybody who might be in there?”
Morton County prosecutors did not return a phone message seeking comment.
The attacks began about 7:30 a.m. on April 1, when four employees arrived at work early for their “coffee club” meeting. The victims were RJR co-owner Robert Fakler, 52; employee Adam Fuehrer, 42; and married co-workers Lois Cobb, 45, and William Cobb, 50. A police affidavit says Fakler was stabbed and cut multiple times. Fuehrer and the Cobbs were all stabbed and shot, and Lois Cobb’s neck was cut.
Robert Fakler’s wife, Jackie, the co-owner of the business, has said she has no clue why the four employees were attacked.
Police said they found spent shell casings, a knife with a bent tip and gun parts in a kitchen freezer at Isaak’s house, all smelling of chlorine bleach allegedly used to cover up the crimes.
Defense attorneys in a separate filing asked that his trial be moved from Morton County due to pretrial publicity. “Mr. Isaak can hardly enjoy an impartial and fair trial when already convicted by the media as a ‘mass murderer’ to the Morton County public,” the motion reads.