MOORHEAD — A Moorhead man who acknowledged killing and dismembering his roommate last year is expected to be sentenced to more than 30 years in prison next month.

Ethan Martin Broad, 27, pleaded guilty Friday, Jan. 8, in Clay County District Court to a second-degree felony of murder, which states he intentionally killed 19-year-old Dystynee Avery on April 3 at their 1310 28th Ave. S. apartment in Moorhead. A second murder charge that alleged he killed Avery without intent will be dismissed after he is sentenced on Feb. 18.

In court Friday, Broad said he got mad at Avery in a bedroom, claiming she swung a pipe at him.

“I stuck a knife in her throat,” he said, adding that he hit her with the pipe. “I was angry.”

Dystynee Avery
Dystynee Avery

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It's unclear why Broad and Avery were arguing.

He told his other roommate, 27-year-old Andrea Catherine Payne, to leave the apartment, he said. Payne was sitting in another room and heard the two arguing before hearing a thud, according to court documents.

Payne left the apartment without checking on Avery, charging documents alleged.

Broad said he moved Avery to the shower, then the garage. That's where he used saws to dismember her body, prosecutors said.

He then put her remains in garbage bags and dumped her body in a dumpster, charging documents said. Avery’s remains were found three weeks later at the Clay County landfill.

In court Friday, Broad denied acting in self-defense. He also said he has the IQ of a second-grader.


A mental health evaluation found he was fit for trial, despite past findings that he was incapacitated to the point of needing to be placed under the care of Catholic Charities North Dakota, which has an intellectual disabilities guardianship division.

He faced up to 40 years in prison, but prosecutor Pamela Foss said a plea deal calls for him to be sentenced to 367 months in prison.

Prosecutors had planned to seek a heavier sentence, but the plea agreement put an end to those efforts, Foss said.

Payne, as well as David Marvin Erno, 23, of Moorhead, and Brandon Everett Leroy Erbstoesser, 34, of Fargo, all face accomplice charges that allege they helped cover up Avery’s death. Payne, Erno, Erbstoesser and Broad remain in custody at the Clay County Jail.