Dispute arises over trial judge in accomplice to murder case
MINOT — North Central District Court Judge Gary Lee has been assigned as the temporary presiding judge in the Cynthia Louise Wilder accomplice to murder case.
Wilder, 26, is accused of helping her husband, Richie Wilder, plan the Nov. 13, 2015, murder of his ex-wife Angila Wilder and afterwards of helping to cover it up. She is also accused of helping her husband with his attempted escape from the Ward County Jail in August 2016. A preliminary hearing in her case is scheduled for June 29 before Lee. Her husband is serving life without parole in prison for the murder after a jury found him guilty last December.
According to court records, the prosecution and the defense are wrangling over the assignment of a trial judge in the case. Judge Stacy Louser had originally been assigned to the case.
Deputy State's Attorney Kelly Dillon filed a demand for a change of judge on June 7. Dillon wrote that the demand was "made in good faith and not for the purpose of delay."
Cynthia Wilder's defense attorney, Patrick Waters, is resisting the state's request and accuses the State of "judge shopping."
"Ms. Wilder notes that the State's regular practice of changing judges seems to have begun following the acquittal of Lorin Hove ..." wrote Waters. Specifically, based upon information and belief, the State has routinely been substituting Judge Louser (who was the presiding judge over the Hove trial) and that practice began immediately following the Hove matter. Ms. Wilder notes that Judge Louser made numerous rulings against the State's violative and systematic unethical discovery practices throughout the Hove trial. Ms. Wilder submits that the State is attempting to judge-shop its way around Judge Louser for purposes which are not good faith in nature and that the State should be required to explain itself for its request to once again attempt to substitute Judge Louser in yet another case of import."
A jury acquitted Hove, 69, in March of the sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl.
Cynthia Wilder has been held at the Ward County Jail since last month. The state alleges that she told a man she had once had a relationship with that she helped plan and later cover up the murder of Angila Wilder. Cynthia Wilder had been a kindergarten and first-grade teacher for the Minot Public Schools for the past two years. Cynthia Wilder is charged with criminal conspiracy to commit murder, a Class AA felony, and accomplice to escape, a Class C felony. She could face up to life in prison without parole.