- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota’s Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of one of two men accused of conspiring to murder a South Dakota man in North Dakota and bury the dismembered body in Montana.

Justices ruled unanimously that there was enough evidence to support the guilty verdict against Joshua Clark, The Bismarck Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1INkbHD ).

Clark is serving life in prison for his role in the spring 2013 killing of John Swain, 18, who had moved to Bismarck from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in search of work. Clark’s co-defendant, Theo Crowe, also is serving life behind bars.

Authorities said Clark and Crowe lured Swain into a Bismarck home, hit him with a hammer, cut off his legs and later buried the body at the home of Crowe’s grandmother in Poplar, Montana.

A district court jury in July 2014 convicted Clark of felony conspiracy to commit murder. Crowe had pleaded guilty to the same charge in October 2013.

Clark’s attorneys during trial and appeal argued it was Crowe who hatched the murder plot and that Clark went along with it only because he was afraid of Crowe. Clark testified that he believed Swain was already dead when Clark struck him with the hammer.

Clark’s attorneys argued that the state failed to prove that Clark and Crowe conspired to commit murder. District Judge Bruce Haskell had questioned the conspiracy charge during Clark’s trial. However, Haskell allowed the charge to go before a jury, which found sufficient evidence to convict.

“We have concluded there was sufficient circumstantial evidence to establish an agreement between Crowe and Clark to support a conviction for conspiracy to commit murder,” Justice Lisa McEvers wrote in the Supreme Court’s opinion.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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