Man sentenced for attempted murder

Judge says 12 years for Alexander Lail

VALLEY CITY – A New Rockford man, Alexander Lail, 50, received a sentence of 12 years behind bars during a lengthy hearing here Wednesday before Southeast District Judge Daniel Narum.

The sentencing hearing started at 10 a.m. but did not conclude until late in the afternoon. Lail was ordered to be immediately transported to the State Penitentiary in Bismarck. He was given credit for the 651 days he has been incarcerated since his arrest in May 2017.

Lail faced a total of 10 felony and two misdemeanor charges, the most serious of which were two counts of attempted murder. Attempted murder is a Class A felony with the possible penalty of 20 years imprisonment.

A felony charge of criminal conspiracy against Lail was dismissed in August of last year but Lail pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, interception of wire or oral communications – eavesdropping, stalking, delivery of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, maintain dwelling for using controlled substance, bribery, possession of controlled substance, aggravated assault – domestic violence and ingesting a controlled substance.

Lail elected to go to trial on the two charges of attempted murder. A brief jury deliberation following his trial in early August of last year returned a guilty verdict on both counts. Wednesday’s sentencing was a result of that trial. Narum ordered that the two counts of attempted murder be served concurrently along with the penalties imposed on some of the other charges admitted to by Lail.

The sentencing appears to bring to a conclusion one of the highest profile cases to ever play out in Wells County. The investigation into Lail’s activities implicated dozens of people, including then Wells County Sheriff Johnny Lawson. Lawson was sentenced in May, 2018 to 25 days home confinement on a single misdemeanor charge.

The attempted murder complaint against Lail alleged he “intentionally and knowingly took substantial steps toward the intentional murder” of his wife, Donna Lail, and Tyler Schnase. Schnase was employed at Central Plains Restoration of New Rockford, a business owned by Lail.

The motive for Lail’s action was, according to the state, that both Donna Lail and Schnase had knowledge of and were providing law enforcement with information regarding possession of stolen property and usage of methamphetamine.

The state maintained that Lail had offered $30,000 to several persons for the killing of Donna Lail, including specific instructions on how to carry out the killing and burn down Donna Lail’s home. The state also claimed Alexander Lail sought to implement a similar scheme to kill Schnase, even going so far as to show one individual the location of Schnase’s residence.