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Suspect in fatal stabbing near Fargo Cash Wise pleads guilty, testifies against three others charged with murder

FARGO - After striking a plea deal calling for a 25-year prison term, a Fargo man accused of a fatal stabbing near a grocery store here last month pleaded guilty Friday and testified against three other suspects who were arrested Thursday and cha...

Alexander Dean Clapper

FARGO - After striking a plea deal calling for a 25-year prison term, a Fargo man accused of a fatal stabbing near a grocery store here last month pleaded guilty Friday and testified against three other suspects who were arrested Thursday and charged with murder.

Wade Anthony Garrett, 19, was previously charged in the March 14 murder of 26-year-old Rolandas Devon House, which a witness told police was linked to a drug-related theft.

Those arrested Thursday in connection with House's death were Alexander Dean Clapper, 19, of Moorhead; Clapper's sister, Tamara Leigh Ann Clapper, 22, also of Moorhead; and their father, Arlen Dean Clapper of Dilworth.

Police were called shortly after midnight on March 14 to the scene of an apparent car crash at Cash Wise grocery store, 1401 33rd St. S., where they discovered House's body about 100 yards from one of the cars in the crash.

A man detained at the scene told police that House stole money and marijuana from Garrett during a drug deal at the nearby West Acres mall.

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On the witness stand during his plea hearing Friday in Cass County District Court, Garrett told a courtroom crowd about how he had planned with three other people to rob House of the money House stole from one of them, Alexander Clapper.

Tamara Clapper set up the sham drug deal to lure House to the meeting, Garrett said.

Garrett testified that Alexander Clapper gave him a knife before he went to meet House in the Cash Wise parking lot, saying, "Use it if you have to."

"You ended up chasing Mr. House across the parking lot into the strip mall area?" Garrett's attorney, Steve Mottinger, asked him. "He was on foot ... your car got stuck in the mud?" he continued.

"Yes," replied Garrett.

Garrett got out of the car and fought with House, knife in hand, he testified.

House tore at his shirt in the fight, Garrett said, adding that he stabbed House at least four times.

Garrett said he then went through House's pockets and found $28, giving it to Arlen Clapper.

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Court documents filed Thursday in Cass County District Court along with Class AA felony murder charges against all three Clappers say police found in a review of their cellphones that there was a lot of communication between them and Garrett around the time of House's death.

According to the terms of his plea deal, Garrett would be sentenced to 25 years with one year suspended.

"We're certainly pleased with the outcome of the case," Cass County prosecutor Tristan Van de Streek said. "I'm sure it's a hard decision for him to make."

Garrett's family members, who left the hearing weeping, declined to be interviewed by The Forum.

A formal sentencing date has not been set.

Prosecutors also asked Judge John Irby to require Garrett to continue cooperating with investigators as part of his sentence.

"His cooperation will hopefully be useful," Van de Streek said.

Fargo Police Chief Keith Ternes said the department's investigation is ongoing, and that investigators may still be looking to speak with other individuals.

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"[But] I don't believe that the public is in any type of jeopardy as a result of this," he said.

Cass County State's Attorney Birch Burdick said that with four defendants, the case had surpassed in terms of number any other murder he could recall in Cass County.

The Clappers were arrested in Valley City on Thursday night and are being held in the Barnes County Jail.

Alexander Clapper is also charged with Class B felony delivery of marijuana.

All three family members are expected to make their first court appearances Monday.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541

Related Topics: CRIMENORTH DAKOTA
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