MINOT — A plea agreement brokered by the Ward County State’s Attorney’s office goes against the wishes of the family of slain Connie Rod, Minot, says Rod’s former husband.
Daniel Tyler, Minot, had three daughters while married to Connie Rod. The daughters were 15, 13, and 11 years old when their mother was shot in her home on May 21, 2020. She died in a Minot hospital four days later.
Four months later police arrested Rod’s husband, Erik Rod, charging him with AA felony murder and a C felony of reckless endangerment. Erik Rod pled guilty to a lesser plea of manslaughter earlier this month after being made the offer by the State’s Attorney’s office.
“They just offered him a deal he can’t refuse,” said Tyler. “We didn’t even find out that there was even a plea offered until we found out through the news.”
Tyler, a former detective in Plano, Texas with 22 years in law enforcement, says a “main aggravation” is that attorneys handling the case failed to “inform the girls through me,” which he says is required.
“I am the representative of my children. They are minor children,” stated Tyler. “The girls all feel that five years is not enough for their mother’s life.”
The original charge of murder-extreme indifference, carried with it the possibility of a life sentence. Manslaughter has a maximum sentence of 10 years. The State’s Attorney is asking that Erik Rod serve five years.
“It’s an insulting plea offer,” said Tyler. “I understand why they didn’t bother talking to us about it, because we would have told them hell no.”
Erik Rod pled guilty to the manslaughter charge in front of Judge Gary Lee on April 20, but Lee delayed sentencing until July 15. Rod must serve a minimum of four years since the crime involved a firearm, but Lee has the option of sentencing him for up to the full ten years allowed by law.
Tyler maintains the State’s Attorney’s office assured family members for 18 months that murder was the appropriate charge, and the case was bound for trial. Then came what he says was a surprise plea agreement.
“They said they talked to Connie’s parents, and they agreed to manslaughter. That’s just not true,” said Tyler. “What they really did was talk in circles and use some jargon, have him plead to a 10 to 5. Connie’s parents assumed that meant 10 years for murder and five years for child endangerment.”
Was the plea agreement a result of family members deciding that they didn’t want to relive the fatal shooting in a courtroom?
“No. There’s no basis for that at all. Absolutely not,” stated Tyler. ‘In fact, it was the exact opposite of that. Paul (Connie’s father) told them exclusively to take it to trial.”
During the change of plea hearing Leah Viste of the State’s Attorney’s office told the court of the problems with proving Erik Rod was guilty of murder.
The Dakotan reached out to the State’s Attorney’s office for comment on the matter but has not received a reply.