Defendant takes the stand in Fargo staircase fall homicide trial – InForum

FARGO — Cody Plumlee took the witness stand in his personal protection Tuesday, April 5, in his homicide trial in Cass County District Court docket.

Along with homicide, Plumlee, 29, was on trial for housebreaking, aggravated assault/home violence, reckless endangerment, false data to legislation enforcement, theft and reckless driving within the dying of Kirsten Knaus, who died in December 2020 following a fall down a flight of steps.

If discovered responsible of the homicide cost, Plumlee might be sentenced to life in jail.


Choose Wade Webb makes a ruling through the Cody Plumlee trial in Cass County District Court docket on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

David Samson/The Discussion board

After taking the stand, Plumlee was questioned by his legal professional, Jeff Bredahl, who requested Plumlee about his childhood in Arkansas and his job historical past, together with working within the oil business within the Williston space.

Plumlee mentioned at one level he obtained into authorized hassle involving forgery expenses, and he mentioned he grew to become hooked on methamphetamine, which precipitated him “to lose every part.”

He moved to Fargo and entered remedy, he mentioned, and was launched from remedy in 2017.

Plumlee mentioned he then labored at numerous well-paying jobs within the Fargo space, and he met Knaus in the summertime of 2020 on a courting app.

“She was undeniably elegant and had a one-of-a-kind persona that was very vibrant and radiant,” Plumlee mentioned, breaking into tears as he talked about their first date.

He mentioned the day after that first date, he determined to stop his job so he might spend extra time with Knaus.

Plumlee mentioned they talked about their mutual historical past with dependancy and he informed her he would attempt to assist her along with her points, including Knaus and her canine moved into his south Fargo house a couple of month after they met.

He mentioned Knaus’ daughter additionally moved in a short while after that.

“It was form of dashing issues, however I might inform she wanted assist,” Plumlee mentioned of Knaus.

He mentioned it was then determined Knaus and her daughter would transfer to a home on the north facet of Fargo owned by the household of certainly one of her buddies, Lisa Weaver. As plans developed to make the transfer, Plumlee mentioned he visited the house to look after Knaus’ canine, who have been being saved within the attic.

He mentioned on Dec. 5 and 6 of 2020, he and Knaus labored on the home to organize an house for her.

Plumlee mentioned he developed a suspicion that Knaus and Weaver have been utilizing medicine collectively, and he labored on the home for a number of days with out sleep in an effort to watch over Knaus and guarantee she would not use medicine, as they’d agreed to stop collectively.

He mentioned throughout that interval he requested Knaus to return a cellphone to him that his mom had paid for, which he mentioned heightened tensions between them.

Plumlee mentioned that on Dec. 7, 2020, he started to suspect Knaus and Weaver have been utilizing meth collectively, and he needed to get Knaus away from the state of affairs on the home.

At one level, he mentioned, Knaus put the disputed cellphone in her purse, and when Plumlee took it again, Weaver grabbed him by the hair and started punching him.

He mentioned he then pleaded with Knaus to go away the home with him, however she refused.

Later that day, Plumlee mentioned he determined to present Knaus’ canine a shower in an upstairs house of the house, which resulted in some flooding of the decrease stage and a confrontation with Weaver.

Throughout that confrontation, he mentioned, Weaver threw keys at him and informed him to go away.

Plumlee mentioned he then went again to the upstairs house for a cooling-off interval, and when he returned to the decrease a part of the home, the place appeared quiet. He mentioned he thought Weaver and Knaus had left to go to his house in an effort to burglarize it.

He mentioned he known as 911 to voice his issues and to get assist in coping with the potential state of affairs.

At about that time, he mentioned, he regarded by way of a window of the door to the house and noticed Knaus and Weaver utilizing what he acknowledged as drug paraphernalia.

“I felt like kicking within the door to save lots of her life. I did not need her to harm herself anymore,” Plumlee mentioned.

“You have been making an attempt to cease a criminal offense, sure?” Bredahl mentioned.

“Sure,” Plumlee mentioned.

He mentioned he compelled open the door, and Weaver started attacking him with a frying pan whereas Knaus restrained a pit bull belonging to Weaver.

Knaus requested Weaver to take her canine, which Weaver did, handing the frying pan to Knaus, Plumlee mentioned.

He requested Knaus to go away with him, which he mentioned she agreed to do, including that at that time, Weaver started hitting him on a deck simply outdoors the home.

He mentioned Knaus then started hitting him with a frying pan, together with a robust blow that she dealt by swinging the pan at him with each arms.

He mentioned after that blow, which surprised him, he pushed at Knaus along with his shoulder whereas Weaver continued to hit him.

“I pushed into Kirsten. It was, like, a fast ‘Get away,”’ Plumlee testified.

Later, Plumlee testified he was unaware that Knaus had fallen down the steps when he left the home following the altercation.

Knaus died within the hospital on Dec. 22, 2020, and a medical expert later dominated that the reason for dying was murder.

Previous to Plumlee testifying, the prosecution rested its case Tuesday morning, after which Choose Wade Webb denied a protection movement that Plumlee be acquitted on numerous expenses, together with the homicide cost, primarily based on the assertion the prosecution had not confirmed its allegations and the assertion Plumlee had acted in self-defense in Knaus’ dying.

Bredahl argued the state had not offered any proof that Plumlee broke down the door with an intention of committing a criminal offense as soon as inside, which he asserted was a component of the homicide cost the state wanted to show.

He additionally asserted that Plumlee was elevating self-defense as a cause for pushing Knaus away from him through the altercation close to the basement steps.

In denying Bredahl’s movement for an acquittal on expenses of homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, Webb mentioned his ruling, by legislation, needed to be made in a light-weight most favorable to the state.

Based mostly on that, he mentioned he would enable the fees to be determined by the jury, although he famous he would instruct the jury that they might take into account self-defense as an element.

Below cross-examination Tuesday, Plumlee acknowledged his testimony included data that he didn’t inform investigators throughout a police interview the night time of Dec. 7, 2020, together with his feedback concerning seeing Knaus and Weaver by way of the window of a door apparently utilizing medicine.

On Monday, prosecutors performed movies of the police interview.

Within the interview, Plumlee talked about occasions main as much as the autumn.

In accordance with the police interview, rising tensions between Plumlee and Knaus got here to a head that night when Plumlee grew to become upset when he discovered that the door at Knaus’ new house had been locked.

On the time, in accordance with Plumlee’s statements to police, he was moist and chilly from giving Knaus’ canine a shower. He mentioned he was additionally upset as a result of he believed Knaus and Weaver had the keys to his house of their possession, so he believed he had no strategy to get into his house.

He mentioned he was additionally fearful the ladies or their buddies may use his keys to burglarize his house.

Plumlee mentioned he broke right into a door of the house, stunning the ladies who instantly informed him to go away.

He went on to explain an more and more chaotic state of affairs wherein he concurrently realized the keys he had been demanding have been in his pocket the complete time whereas the ladies have been turning into more and more adamant that he go away the home, with Weaver arming herself with a frying pan.

Plumlee mentioned his solely want at that time was to go away, so he grabbed car keys belonging to Weaver from the basement of the house and started making his means up the basement stairs to go away the residence.

By that point, he mentioned, Knaus had taken possession of the frying pan and barred his means on the prime of the steps.

Plumlee mentioned on reflection he might see that Knaus solely needed to assist her buddy, however when she started hitting him within the head with the frying pan he pushed her utilizing “a soccer transfer,” which despatched her falling down the steps.

“Kirsten has the frying pan, and there is just one means out,” Plumlee mentioned within the interview.

“I simply tried to place my arm up. She nailed me actually onerous,” he mentioned, including that after he pushed Knaus he “might see the look on her face” as she fell. He mentioned at that second he needed to “seize her.”

Throughout the trial’s opening arguments final week, Assistant Cass County State’s Legal professional SheraLynn Ternes described the shove that despatched Knaus down the steps as “an all-out push. She (Knaus) does not hit something till she hits the underside of the steps.”

On Friday, Dr. Mary Ann Sens, a forensic pathologist and coroner who carried out an post-mortem on Knaus’ stays, testified about Knaus’ quick reason for dying, which Sens mentioned was resulting from air being compelled beneath her pores and skin by some mechanical means.

She mentioned the trapped air and its influence on respiration contributed to a catastrophic drop in Knaus’ oxygen ranges.

On the time she died, Knaus had a tracheotomy tube in her throat that helped her breathe. Sens mentioned she discovered eroded tissue in Knaus’ throat, however she stopped wanting blaming the deadly drawback of air beneath the pores and skin on the respiratory tube.

When Bredahl later requested Sens whether or not Knaus won’t have died when she did however for no matter cataclysmic occasion precipitated air to enter her physique outdoors the conventional route, she replied, “in all probability, sure.”

On Monday, Dr. Steven Briggs, a surgeon at Sanford Well being, testified

that in his opinion primarily based on medical data, air was compelled beneath Knaus’ pores and skin by a ventilator after Knaus’ respiratory tube grew to become dislodged from its correct place in her throat.

He mentioned the tube was dislodged when workers rolled her over whereas giving her a shower in her hospital mattress.

Throughout her cross-examination of Plumlee on Tuesday, Ternes requested Plumlee if he meant to harm or scare anybody when he broke into the home and Plumlee replied, “no.”

Ternes replied: “Actions communicate louder than phrases, would you agree?”

After Plumlee was cross-examined, the protection rested Tuesday night.

Closing arguments are anticipated Wednesday morning, with the case going to the jury later Wednesday.