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Murder trial for Erik Rod likely to be held next August

A murder trial for Erik Steven Rod, 42, is likely to be scheduled for two weeks in August.

Rod made an appearance at a pre-trial conference on Wednesday before North Central District Court Judge Gary Lee.

Rod is charged with Class AA felony murder in the shooting of his wife, Connie Elizabeth Rod, 37, last May 21, and with Class C felony reckless endangerment in connection with the same incident. Rod’s attorney, Patrick Waters, told the judge on Wednesday that the shooting was an accident and it was not “premeditated” or “done in cold blood.” The prosecution has argued that the shooting was not accidental. The incident was originally investigated by Minot police as the accidental discharge of a firearm. Connie Rod was taken to the hospital for treatment but died of her injuries on May 26, 2020 and Erik Rod was arrested in August in 2020.

Rod is being held on $250,000 bond at the Ward County Jail. Waters had asked the judge to lower the bond to either $100,000 cash or 10 percent of $250,000 with GPS monitoring but Lee said he believes the current bond set is already on the low end. Lee also said at Wednesday’s hearing that he will not allow Rod to leave the state if he is released on bond. Waters had asked that Rod be permitted to live in Iowa with his parents if he is released on bond or, as an alternative, that he be allowed to live in either Cass or Burleigh Counties. Waters said feelings in the community are running high and certain people have made veiled threats against Erik Rod on Facebook. However, Waters said Erik Rod is a military veteran with no prior criminal record, has lived in Minot for 10 years, and is presumed innocent.

Waters also objected to victim impact statements that were filed with the court by friends, co-workers and some family members of Connie Rod in opposition to lowering the bond for Erik Rod. Waters said those people do not meet the definition of “victims” under the state’s Marsy’s Law and he asked the judge not to read the victim impact statements. Lee said that point was moot as he had already refused to lower bond. Waters also objected to two more people being listed as victims in court filings and said they do not meet the definition of victim under Marsy’s Law. Lee told Waters to file a written argument with the court on that issue.

Connie Rod and Erik Rod had been married for a little over a year when she was killed, according to an obituary that was published in The Minot Daily News. She had worked most recently at the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. According to the obituary, she had previously worked as as a licensed marriage and family therapist-supervisor and licensed chemical dependency counselor at New Horizons Center for healing, as a substance abuse counselor at Community Medical Services and at Job Corps.

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