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Christopher Hampton listens to his public defender, Jay Greenwood, at the Cass County Courthouse on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, during a preliminary hearing in the murder case accusing him of killing his cousin, Randall Doehner, on June 26. Nick Wagner / The Forum

Fargo man accused of shooting cousin pleads not guilty

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Fargo man accused of shooting cousin pleads not guilty
Fargo ND 101 5th Street North 58102

FARGO – The shooting death of her boyfriend last month still doesn’t seem real to Stefani Desjarlais

“I’m still shocked by all this,” she said, standing in the halls of the Cass County Courthouse on Wednesday with their 6-month-old son in her arms. “Seems like Randall’s going to come home any minute.”

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The cousin and roommate accused of shooting Randall Doehner in the back of the head outside their north Fargo apartment – Christopher Paul Hampton, 24 – pleaded not guilty to a Class AA felony murder charge Wednesday in Cass County District Court.

Desjarlais is identified in court documents as lending Hampton the gun he allegedly used in the June 26 shooting. Hampton claims he shot Doehner in self-defense, and he believed his cousin was poisoning him, according to court records.

The men, who she met three years ago, sometimes fought “like brothers,” she said, but always made up shortly afterward.

Hampton and Doehner, originally from Tennessee, attended the same high school and made their way to jobs with the same company in Hopkins, Minn., before moving to Fargo. When Doehner thought of Christian Noah as the name for their soon-to-be-born son, he told Hampton before Desjarlais, she said.

That’s what made it so hard to comprehend the shooting, Desjarlais said. She said she and Doehner dismissed the concerns of poisoning as “crazy talk.”

“I knew he thought that,” she said. “I just didn’t think it was that real in his head.”

Desjarlais said Hampton borrowed her gun before June 26 several times without incident.

She also said Hampton believed Doehner was involved with his girlfriend and was planning to leave Desjarlais for her. “I guess I kind of laughed at it,” she said of his notion of a love triangle afoot.

According to court documents, Hampton admitted three times that he shot Doehner, once in the 911 call, once on the scene and once in an interview right after the shooting. Tests at an area hospital didn’t detect any poison in Hampton’s system, but did show the presence of amphetamines and marijuana, court records state.

“I believe Chris is sick,” Desjarlais said. “He might deny that, but they were just way too close.”

Prosecutor Tristan Van de Streek wouldn’t speculate on what a state hospital or private doctor might find in an examination of Hampton’s mental health.

His next court appearance is set for Sept. 30.

Gazing at the baby’s blue eyes, Desjarlais’ mother, Carol Desjarlais, observed they were much like his father’s, as was the baby’s feathery, pale-brown hair.

Doehner was a hands-on dad, excited to be a father again, Desjarlais said, and it was hard to know her son would grow up without him.

“This was daddy’s baby,” she said.

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