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Published October 11 2011

Man accused of killing NDSU researcher set to stand trial in April

COOPERSTOWN, N.D. – A jury trial has been scheduled for a Cooperstown man accused of killing a North Dakota State University researcher.

Daniel Wacht is slated to stand trial April 16 in Griggs County District Court. Ten days have been set aside for the trial before Judge James Hovey.

Wacht is charged with murder in the death of Cooperstown-based NDSU researcher Kurt Johnson. Wacht pleaded not guilty to the charge on May 27.

If convicted of the Class AA felony, Wacht faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Johnson was last seen alive on New Year’s Eve. On Jan. 4, his severed head was discovered in Wacht’s basement.

Johnson’s body has not been recovered despite extensive searches.

In the days before investigators believe he killed Johnson, Wacht is alleged to have said he was planning a murder or explosion to get notice for the Aryan Nation, a white-supremacist gang.

Authorities also say Wacht had blood stains in his house and a shell casing the same caliber and brand as the one that killed Johnson. Police found the items in Wacht’s home when they searched it five days after he was seen with Johnson.