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Published January 19, 2012, 07:10 PM

Lawyer For Cooperstown Man Wants Evidence Tossed in Severed Head Case

COOPERSTOWN, N.D. – The lawyer for a Cooperstown man accused of killing a North Dakota State University researcher argued today that evidence obtained through search warrants – including the victim’s severed head – shouldn’t be allowed because authorities didn’t have probable cause to search Daniel Evan Wacht’s van and home.

By: Mike Nowatzki, Forum Communications

COOPERSTOWN, N.D. – The lawyer for a Cooperstown man accused of killing a North Dakota State University researcher argued today that evidence obtained through search warrants – including the victim’s severed head – shouldn’t be allowed because authorities didn’t have probable cause to search Daniel Evan Wacht’s van and home.

District Court Judge Thomas E. Merrick took the matter under advisement after hearing from defense attorney Steven Mottinger, Griggs County State's Attorney Marina Spahr and three witnesses.

Merrick said he’ll issue a ruling soon on the motion to suppress evidence.

Because evidence seized during the van search led to two warranted searches of Wacht’s home, Mottinger said evidence from all three of the searches should be thrown out.

During the last of the three searches, authorities found the severed head of Cooperstown-based NDSU researcher Kurt Johnson in Wacht’s basement with what appeared to be a bullet hole in the forehead, court documents state.

Authorities say Wacht also had blood stains in his house and a shell casing the same caliber and brand as the one that killed Johnson, whose body hasn’t been found.

Nowatzki writes for the Forum in Fargo

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