MOORHEAD — Two defendants accused in connection to the death of a teen whose dismembered body was found at a landfill in April could face aggravated sentences for their alleged crimes.

The Clay County Attorney’s Office filed motions against Ethan Martin Broad, 27, of Moorhead, and Andrea Catherine Payne, 26, of West Fargo, alleging the two lacked remorse for their alleged involvement in the death of 19-year-old Dystynee Avery. Prosecutors also said Avery was “treated with particular cruelty for which” both Broad and Payne should be held responsible.

Court documents allege Broad killed Avery on April 3 inside their Moorhead apartment at 1310 28th Ave. S., dragged her body to his garage, dismembered her and threw her remains into a dumpster. Her remains were found April 22 at the Clay County landfill near Hawley, Minn.

Payne, who lived with Broad and Avery, was in the apartment when Broad hit Avery over the head with a pipe, a criminal complaint said. Prosecutors also allege Payne, along with David Marvin Erno, 22, of Moorhead, and Brandon Everett Leroy Erbstoesser, 33, of Fargo, attempted to cover up Avery’s death.

Andrea Payne
Andrea Payne

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Court documents allege Payne told Erno to destroy Avery’s computer, which he cleared of data that showed it belonged to the slain woman. Erbstoesser told Broad he should report Avery as missing, tell her family she ran away, and hide or destroy the woman’s property, according to court documents.

Broad was charged with two second-degree felony counts of murder, with each charge carrying a maximum punishment of up to 40 years in prison. Payne, Erno and Erbstoesser each face two felony counts of aiding Broad in murder, with each charge carrying a 20-year sentence.

Minnesota has a grid system that helps judges determine how much time a defendant can receive within the sentencing guidelines. A person with no past criminal history, like Broad, may be sentenced on the lower end of the sentencing grid, Clay County Attorney Brian Melton. The baseline would be about 25 years, he said.

Along with arguing Broad lacked remorse and treated Avery cruelly, prosecutors will ask for more prison time — up to 40 years — since the crime allegedly happened in the victim’s bedroom, a “zone of privacy." They also noted Broad tried to conceal Avery’s body and shift blame onto another person — he initially told police Erno killed Avery, according to court documents.

Payne would face a sentence on the higher end as well, up to 20 years in prison.

Dystynee Avery
Dystynee Avery

Aggravated sentencing motions have not been filed against Erno or Erbstoesser. A judge will decide at a future date whether Broad and Payne will face aggravated sentences.

Payne had an omnibus hearing scheduled Thursday, June 25, which was continued to July 23.

Broad’s June 18 hearing was canceled after Clay County Judge Tammy Merkins ordered him to undergo an evaluation to determine his competency to proceed.

Broad was placed in 2011 under the care of Catholic Charities North Dakota in Fargo because he suffered several mental health disorders, his IQ was 65 and he read at a first-grade level despite being a junior in high school, according to court documents describing why he should be placed under guardianship indefinitely.

A Cass County judge found his incapacity was permanent and he could not care for himself or “make responsible decisions in his own best interests.”

That guardianship was terminated in November 2019, five months before Avery died, at the request of Catholic Charities. The organization said, “it will not be detrimental for Ethan to be his own guardian.”