Published April 5, 2024

Hearing in Knutson Murder Case

Written by
Kim Fundingsland
| The Dakotan
Nichole Rice (Photo: submitted)
Nichole Rice (Photo: submitted)

Refining the Jury Questionnaire

MINOT – If the court hearing is any indication, the longest running murder case in Minot may also turn out to be the most contentious.

Nichole Rice, Minot, is charged with the murder of Anitia Knutson. Knutson’s body was found in the apartment she shared with Rice in early June 2007. Rice was arrested and charged with Murder-Intentional or Knowing-Adult Victim, a class AA felony punishable by up to life in prison, in March of 2022.

Judge Richard Hagar presided over Thursday’s hearing which was for the purpose of resolving differences between Defense Attorney Philip Becher and the State, represented by Assistant State’s Attorney Stephanie Davis, over the precise wording of a few of the questions that will be sent to prospective jurors.

The proposed changes by Becher amounted to legal housekeeping, such as requesting “until proven guilty” to “unless proven guilty,” and “put aside” to “set aside.” Judge Hagar approved some of the wording changes and rejected others.

Prospective juror questionnaires in the very public case are to be mailed out later this month. Hagar did not know how many prospective jurors would receive questionnaires but expected the number to be higher than is customary for the court.

The questionnaire consists of 17 pages containing 49 questions. The trial is scheduled to begin July 15, 2024.

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