Jun. 26—The trial for Salamah Pendleton, who faces two murder charges for his role in the deaths of his mother and a Grand Forks police officer, will begin next week.
The trial will begin on Tuesday, June 29, and is expected to run until July 16. The prosecution, led by Grand Forks County Assistant State's Attorney Carmell Mattison, will argue that Pendleton, 41, opened fire with an AK-47 on Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office deputies Ron Nord and Kelly McLean on May 27, 2020, when they attempted to evict Pendleton and his mother, Lola Moore, from the Grand Forks apartment they shared. Grand Forks Police Department officers Pat Torok and Cody Holte responded to the deputies' call for help. When the shooting ended, Moore and Holte both had wounds that proved fatal. Nord and Pendleton also suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds.
If convicted, Pendleton could spend up to life in prison. He is facing two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and one count each of criminal mischief, terrorizing, reckless endangerment and possession with intent to manufacture or deliver marijuana.
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During the trial, the jury will see the results of the criminal investigation following the incident, including the officers' body camera footage from that day. More than 40 witnesses will be called to testify, including state investigators who led the homicide investigation, hospital staff who provided care to the victims, and people who witnessed the shooting.
After the shooting, Holte, Nord and Pendleton were rushed to Altru Hospital, where they received emergency care. Holte died at the hospital.
The doctors who cared for them will testify as expert witnesses in the case. They will describe their patients' injuries, the treatment that was provided, and any other findings and opinions relevant to their care. Those doctors are Dr. Christopher Boe, Altru Hospital's chief of staff, who treated Pendleton; Dr. Patrick Kane, an acute care surgeon who treated Holte; and Dr. Paul German, an emergency room physician who treated Nord.
Dr. Mark Koponen of the UND Forensic Pathology Center will testify about the autopsies he performed on Holte and Moore. He will explain to the jury how autopsies are conducted and how information from autopsies is analyzed. He will then give his findings and opinions on Holte's and Moore's injuries, how those injuries occurred, the cause of their deaths and any other relevant analysis.
The homicide investigation into the shooting, as well as the alleged sale of narcotics at Pendleton's address, was led by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The special agents who conducted the investigation will testify as expert witnesses and will describe to the jury a number of topics relating to crime scene reconstruction, including shooting reconstruction, the placement of individuals in the apartment, blood spatter analysis, forensic mapping and scene reconstruction, as well as how crime scene reconstruction is conducted.
Those investigators are Derek Madsen, Jeramie Quam, Scott Kraft and Steve Gilpin, all whom are special agents with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Forensic scientist Frans Maritz of the South Dakota Forensic Laboratory will testify as an expert witness about his firearms and ballistics analysis in the case. He will explain to the jury how such analyses are performed, as well as his findings and opinions on the bullets, bullet fragments, bullet casings and firearms.
North Dakota Crime Laboratory forensic scientist Brian Herz, also testifying as an expert witness, will describe his work conducting drug laboratory analysis as part of the investigation. He will describe to the jury how drug analysis is conducted, both on suspected controlled substances and items containing substance residue, as well as the results of drug analysis performed on items seized from Pendleton's apartment.
Multiple agencies responded to the shooting on May 27, but local agencies — namely the Grand Forks Police Department and the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office — had very little involvement in the investigation. As one Grand Forks Police Department lieutenant put it shortly after the incident, with the NDBCI taking over the investigation, local law enforcement officers would be treated essentially like the family of the victims.
Nearly 30 local law enforcement officers will be called to testify about the events of May 27, 2020. Among them are the three officers who have been identified as being involved in the shooting: McLean, Nord and Torok.
A number of other people have been subpoenaed who have only been identified as "witnesses." Prosecutors did not return a request for clarification.