MINOT — A Minot man removed his suit coat, was handcuffed, and promptly escorted to jail following an appearance in a Ward County courtroom Wednesday.
Erik Steven Rod, 43, entered a guilty plea to a charge of manslaughter during a plea agreement hearing. Rod was initially charged with murder, a AA felony punishable by life in prison, in the death of his wife, Connie Rod, and with reckless endangerment, a class C felony.
Connie Rod suffered a gunshot wound in her home on May 21, 2020. She died four days later. Erik Rod told Minot Police that the shooting was accidental. However, further investigation revealed otherwise and Erik Rod was placed under arrest.
The State and the defense reached a plea agreement, which was presented before Judge Gary Lee. In return for a guilty plea, the State agreed to a reduced charge of manslaughter and the dropping of the reckless endangerment charge.
When Rod was asked by Lee if he was ready to enter a plea, he responded, “Yes, sir.” When asked for his plea, Rod responded, “Guilty, your honor.”
Lee did not immediately accept the plea agreement, which was for a 10-year sentence, serve five. He noted that because a firearm was used in the crime that Rod would have to serve a minimum of four years before having any chance of parole. Then Lee told Rod and defense attorney Patrick Waters, Bismarck, that he was going to order a pre-sentence investigation before ruling on the plea agreement.
Waters requested that Rod remain free on bail during the process, but Lee advised that a person who pleads guilty to a crime is no longer eligible for bail. Sentencing was set for 1 p.m., July 15.
Lee must decide if the plea agreement is satisfactory to the court or whether to make changes to it, such as a minimum sentence of longer than five years. Rod will be held in the Ward County jail until his July appearance.