Updated 10:33 a.m. May 9, 2014: A murder conspiracy case against a Grand Forks attorney that had been downgraded to witness-tampering may soon be dismissed altogether, according to documents the prosecutor filed in state district court Thursday afternoon.
Henry Howe were initially accused of plotting to murder a would-be witness against Lysengen. But Howe’s defense team said an informant providing incriminating evidence against the three has tried to con law enforcement agents before to get a lighter sentence.
The prosecution appeared to concede that point.
Walsh County State’s Attorney Barb Whelan said in her motion to dismiss charges: “The State requests dismissal of this charge based on newly discovered evidence regarding a material witness who was the source of some of the evidence implicating Mr. Howe in this crime.”
“The State concluded that it would be unable to meet the burden of proof necessary for criminal conviction, that is: proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Howe conspired with Paul F. Lysengen and Wesley W. Smith to tamper with a witness,” she said.
Whelan could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday afternoon. A news release from her office said Lysengen and Smith still face witness-tampering charges.
“Barb Whelan did the right thing — finally,” defense attorney David Thompson said. “This case should never have commenced in the first case. Henry Howe was completely innocent.”
The judge in the case still must sign Whelan’s motion, but Thompson said he’s confident that will happen today.
Source: Grand Forks Herald, “Witness tampering charge against Grand Forks attorney Henry Howe to be dismissed” Tu-Uyen Tran, May 8, 2014.