INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 01, 2012, 10:38 AM

Man convicted in Cooperstown beheading death gets life

COOPERSTOWN, N.D. (AP) — A man convicted of shooting and beheading a North Dakota State University researcher in an alleged attempt to start a white supremacist group will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

By: DAVE KOLPACK,Associated Press, Associated Press

COOPERSTOWN, N.D. (AP) — A man convicted of shooting and beheading a North Dakota State University researcher in an alleged attempt to start a white supremacist group will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Judge James Hovey sentenced Daniel Wacht on Wednesday to life in prison with no parole. Wacht's attorney, Steven Mottinger, had asked for life with the possibility of parole.

Wacht, 31, declined to speak at the sentencing and showed no emotion as his sentence was handed down.

A jury in April found Wacht guilty of murder in the death of Kurt Johnson, 54, who was last seen alive outside a Cooperstown bar on New Year's Eve 2010. His severed head was found in a crawl space in Wacht's basement. His body has not been found.

Prosecutors said Wacht killed Johnson to prove his worth to the Aryan Nation, and that there were "layers of evidence" to convict Wacht, including a loveseat cushion soaked in Johnson's blood found in Wacht's garage.

Mottinger disputed the alleged motive and said there was no way to prove that Wacht pulled the trigger.

Johnson was an NDSU researcher based in Cooperstown, a community of fewer than 1,000 people about 75 miles northwest of Fargo.

His brother, Korwin Johnson, on Wednesday said his brother's killing was a "senseless, brutal crime."

Mottinger said he will appeal.

Tags: