ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Rancher-death case focuses on gunshot wounds

MINOT, N.D. -- When North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation special agent Casey Miller lifted up the mattress in convicted felon Ryan Lee Stensaker's bedroom, he said he found two rifles and ammunition.

MINOT, N.D. -- When North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation special agent Casey Miller lifted up the mattress in convicted felon Ryan Lee Stensaker's bedroom, he said he found two rifles and ammunition.

Miller took the witness stand on Dec. 11 in the trial here for Stensaker, charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the shooting death of 58-year-old Jack Sjol.

The Williston rancher went missing April 25, 2013, and was found three weeks later in a private dump site east of the city.

Another BCI special agent, Timothy Erickson, told Williams County State's Attorney Nathan Madden when he arrived to assist with a search warrant at Stensaker's mother's home where he was staying on May 13, 2013 -- the day before Sjol's body was discovered -- the defendant ran down the stairway with no shirt on, saying "What are your guys doing?"

The agents said two rifles -- a Remington 722 and a Winchester 70xtr -- ammunition and an assortment of cards a person would carry in a wallet, all belonging to Stensaker, were found under the mattress, laying on top of the boxspring.

ADVERTISEMENT

On Dec. 10, Sgt. Amanda McNamee of the Williams County Sheriff's Department testified three shell casings of .300 Savage ammunition was found at the crime scene. The Remington long rifle found at the Stensaker home was fitted for .300 Savage bullets.

Prosecutors believe it was Stensaker who shot Sjol with a .300 caliber rifle in the head and the left upper arm. The one to two shots to the face and head area caused bones to break, causing significant trauma, Madden said during his opening statement Wednesday.

In response to Madden's question about the legality of a convicted felon possessing weapons, Miller said it would not be legal, they would be "considered contraband."

Stensaker also has been charged with two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a Class C felony.

Miller said a typical behavior would be an attempt to conceal, even resorting to hiding any weapons, such as under a bed.

Also taking the stand on the second day of testimony was Dr. Ron Seeley, who testified a dental crown found at the crime scene belonged to Sjol. The crown, a non-precious metal, had previously capped an upper right molar.

Seeley said the crown had some of the tooth in it that had broken off at the gumline.

"I took an X-ray of the crown and compared it to the X-ray taken in 2012, and it was literally a perfect match," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Madden asked what could potentially cause a crown to break off. Seeley said "force -- it could be trauma."

"I think there's no question," he said, that a gunshot wound to the face would be enough force to break off a tooth or crown.

The trial in the Ward County Courthouse in Minot, where the trial was moved because of pre-trial publicity, is expected to last into next week.

What To Read Next
As Mikkel Pates approaches his retirement from Agweek after 44 years in journalism, he talks to Rose Dunn about learning TV, covering ag's characters and scandals and looking toward the future.
Members Only
“In our industry there aren’t a lot of young people in it. I like the fact that there are a lot of young people in agriculture here,” he said of the Mitchell area.
Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and Minnesota Corn Growers Association were pleased with items in Gov. Tim Walz's "One Minnesota Budget" proposal.
John Deere and the American Farm Bureau Federation recently announced they had come to an agreement that will lead to more accessible repairs to John Deere equipment.