Convicted killer seeks new trial in North Dakota quadruple murder case
Attorney Kiara Kraus-Parr argued that Chad Isaak was not present during parts of jury selection for his trial, which would violate his right to question potential jurors. She also claimed the court wrongfully held pretrial conferences off the record and sealed documents that should have been public.
MANDAN, N.D. — A former chiropractor convicted of killing four Mandan property management workers in 2019 says he deserves another trial after he was kept out of court during parts of jury selection, among other issues.
Kiara Kraus-Parr, an attorney representing 48-year-old Chad Trolon Isaak, filed a brief on Thursday, June 30, detailing why they believe the man convicted of killing RJR Maintenance and Management co-owner Robert Fakler, 52; and employees Adam Fuehrer, 42; Bill Cobb, 50; and Lois Cobb, 45, should get a second trial.
Isaak was sentenced in December to life without parole after a jury found him guilty in August on four counts of murder, as well as one charge each of burglary, unauthorized use of a vehicle and concealment of a vehicle.
Attorneys for the state had not filed a response to the appeal as of Tuesday. A hearing in front of the North Dakota Supreme Court will be set at a later date.
Prosecutors argued during the three-week trial, overseen by South Central District Judge David Reich, that Isaak broke into RJR’s Mandan office on April 1, 2019. He then stabbed and shot Fuehrer, Fakler and the Cobbs, prosecutors claimed. Isaak was arrested several days later.
A motive has not been presented in the case. Isaak maintains he is innocent, and his defense attorneys argued law enforcement did not investigate other potential suspects.
Isaak’s attorneys filed a notice of appeal in January, but on what grounds was not made clear until the June 30 filing.
Kraus-Parr, who did not represent Isaak during his trial, argued that pretrial discussions took place off the record, which would have violated Isaak’s right to a public trial, according to her brief. She argued that some court documents were wrongfully sealed.
The appeals attorney also argued that Isaak’s rights were violated when he was not present for parts of jury selection, adding that the court did not properly record some of jury selection. Isaak did not give up his right to be present during jury selection, including when a potential juror was dismissed because day care was not available for that person’s child.
Court rules should have allowed Isaak to be in the courtroom so he could question the potential juror during voir dire, the French term for the process of attorneys questioning potential jurors before selecting who sits on the jury, Kraus-Parr argued.
The court did not record nor did it make a transcript of that potential juror’s request to be dismissed and two other jurors' requests to be dismissed, Kraus-Parr said. Isaak also was not present at that time.
“Because the record does not affirmatively show that Mr. Isaak waived his right to a recorded voir dire, his conviction must be reversed, and a new trial granted,” Kraus-Parr argued.