INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 25, 2011, 05:00 PM

Man Charged in Cooperstown Murder Appears in Court

Daniel Wacht was escorted into Griggs County court to face a single charge of murder. Police say Wacht shot 54-year-old Kurt D. Johnson and then decapitated him.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

Daniel Wacht was escorted into Griggs County court to face a single charge of murder. Police say Wacht shot 54-year-old Kurt D. Johnson and then decapitated him.

Authorities say Johnson's head was found in the basement of Wacht's Cooperstown home.

Johnson's body has not been found yet.

Wacht's court appearance was very brief as District Judge Jim Hovey read off the charge and informed Wacht of his rights. Wacht's court-appointed attorney says he has not seen a lot of the evidence but expects a trial.

"Assuming there would be evidence that would be sufficient for purposes of that hearing. I see Mr. Wacht entering a not guilty plea and proceeding towards trial," Defense Attorney Steven Mottinger said.

Judge Hovey read the allegations to Wacht.

"(the charges state) you did knowingly cause the death of Kurt Douglas Johnson, shooting Johnson in the center of the forehead, decapitating the victim and hiding the head in your basement," Hovey said.

Asked if he understood the charges, Wacht replied "Yep."

Wacht's next appearance in court will be a preliminary hearing in 60 days.

Griggs County Sheriff Robert Hook says the search for Johnson's body is being suspended while authorities focus on building the case against Wacht.

The Griggs County Sheriff’s Office previously asked for the public's help to gather information that could lead them to Johnson's body.

The Sheriff released a photo of a maroon 1995 GMC Safari Van with North Dakota license plate number GKZ 294.

They are asking for information from anyone that may have seen the van between Cooperstown and the Fargo-Moorhead area between January 1, 2011 and January 4, 2011.

Tags: