Charges dismissed against a suspect in Williston rancher’s murder

WILLISTON Charges against a defendant in the murder of Williston rancher Jack Sjol, 58, were dismissed Friday in Northwest District Court at the Williams County Courthouse in Williston.

Jeremy Weyrauch faced up to life in prison if convicted of the Class AA felony charge of conspiracy to commit murder he was arrested for on July 8. Sjol had been missing since April 24.

A motion to dismiss the case and supress certain evidence in the case was filed by Weyrauch’s defense attorney, Nicole E. Foster, with offices in Williston and Minot as well as in Los Angeles, Calif., on Sept. 17.

The brief in support of dismissal alleges that the prosecution, led by Williams County assistant State’s Attorney Nathan Madden, failed to provide the defense with evidence they had in its possession. The brief claims that when asked for the material, the prosecutor’s office informed defense counsel that prosecution “‘hasn’t had time’ to provide Defense Counsel with the materials.”

The material in question includes recordings of phone calls between Ronald Gibbons, who is also charged with conspiracy to commit the murder of Sjol, and Amber Jensen, who is facing charges of hindering law enforcement. The phone calls include references to Weyrauch as the “triggerman” and “mastermind” of the murder.

The brief also claims that “the Defendant has been irreparably prejudiced by the recklessness of the State’s discovery conduct.”

In support, the brief references the landmark United State’s Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, which created the “Brady Rule.”

According to the Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute, the Brady Rule requires that prosecutors provide the defense with all evidence “favorable to the accused,” which is exculpatory evidence.

The brief also references the North Dakota Supreme Court case City of Grand Forks v. Ramstad, which resulted in the state’s opinion on how to determine a Brady Rule violation. That determination rests on four pillars and Foster argues that the witholding of the evidence here meets those four pillars and then implied that the remedy for the “reckless misconduct” was determined by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in that “reckless misconduct, if prejudicial, may sometimes warrant dismissal.”

A motion to dismiss without prejudice, listing the reason as “Prosecutorial Discretion,” was signed by Madden Friday.

Madden did not return calls to his office Monday seeking comment. An official in the office told The Minot Daily News that Madden does not speak with the press.