MOORHEAD — The case of a man charged in connection with a brutal killing at a Clay County farmstead is moving toward trial.
Jason Charles Jensen, 40, of Hitterdal, Minn., pleaded not guilty to one felony charge of second-degree aiding and abetting a murder with intent, but without premeditation, at a hearing Tuesday, Jan. 22, in Clay County District Court.
The trial, expected to last about two and a half weeks, is yet to be slated for a date.
Jensen and 35-year-old Kayla Louise Westcott, of Ada, Minn., were arrested in June after authorities identified them as persons of interest in the missing person case of Troy Edmond Yarbrough out of Wahpeton, N.D.
Westcott faces the same charge as Jensen. She has an omnibus hearing set for Feb. 28.
Jensen and Westcott were charged after authorities found human remains, later identified as Yarbrough, at Jensen’s home at 25324 70th Ave. N. in Hitterdal on June 26, according to court documents.
Authorities learned June 15 that Yarbrough had been missing since May 18 and was last seen with two people, later identified as Westcott and Jensen. Westcott and Jensen initially told investigators that they hadn’t seen Yarbrough in over a month, court documents stated.
Westcott later told investigators that she and Jensen picked up Yarbrough on May 18 and came to the Hitterdal farmstead. She said Yarbrough approached her in a large red shed on the farm on May 20 and told her “it’s either you or me,” court documents stated.
At that point, she said Jensen hit Yarbrough with a rake handle, then hit him with an ax and asked Westcott to do the same, court documents stated. She said she swung the ax but stopped short of striking Yarbrough.
Westcott told investigators Yarbrough’s body was left in the shed overnight, but she and Jensen found Yarbrough alive the next day, court documents said.
Westcott told investigators Jensen hit Yarbrough in the head with a cinder block, killing him, and that they tried to burn the body and bury it behind the house, court documents said.
Jensen told investigators he and Westcott picked up Yarbrough on May 18 but left him at Silver Lake on May 19 after an argument.
At the farmstead, investigators found a bloody cinder block, blood splatter in the shed, and a wooden handle with what appeared to be blood on it.
When told about the findings on the farmstead, Jensen told authorities Westcott was the one who killed Yarbrough with a cinder block and a stick. Jensen acknowledged helping dispose of the body, but denied taking part in the killing, court documents said.