FARGO — Unless something “serious and significant comes up,” the trial of a Fargo man accused of killing his girlfriend and setting his apartment on fire will start in March, a Cass County judge said Wednesday, Oct. 21.
Judge Tristan Van de Streek set 46-year-old Sheldon George Davis’ trial for March 4. Prosecutors estimated they would need about two weeks to try the Class AA felony murder case in connection to the death of 52-year-old Denise Anderson.
Davis could be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted. He also faces Class B felony charges of arson and endangerment by fire or explosion, two counts that carry a maximum punishment of 10 years behind bars.
Davis was arrested after emergency crews found Anderson’s body on Aug. 1, 2019, while responding to a fire at his apartment at 417 12th St. N. Prosecutors previously alleged Davis killed Anderson because he feared accusations that he raped her would send him to jail.
Anderson filed a sexual assault report against Davis on June 30, 2019, with the Fargo Police Department, but charges were never filed against him.
Davis denied the rape and murder allegations during an interview with The Forum. He claims another person is responsible for Anderson’s death.
Grand Forks County prosecutors have taken over the case due to a conflict of interest in the Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office. A former Cass County prosecutor who was not on the case told The Forum she was acquainted with one of the witnesses.
Dickinson, N.D., attorney Jared Gietzen was appointed to represent Davis after Grand Forks attorney David Ogren filed a motion to withdraw as the defendant’s lawyer. Davis claimed Ogren was not doing things he wanted the attorney to do.
The switch in attorneys has caused some delay in the case. Van de Streek said he is open to addressing pretrial issues.
However, Van de Streek made it clear that he would not consider postponing the trial further unless something “drastic and catastrophic” happens.
“I really want to get going in March,” the judge said.