New Rockford Transcript - Official Newspaper of Eddy County since 1883

Lail loses N.D. Supreme Court appeal


February 10, 2020

The N.D. Supreme Court has upheld a Barnes County jury’s decision to convict Alexander Lail of attempted murder against his then-wife and former employee.

Lail appealed his conviction on Feb. 19, 2019, just two weeks after he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the crimes. Oral arguments to the N.D. Supreme Court were made in November 2019. On Jan. 23, 2020, the high court handed down its opinion.

In the nine-page opinion, Judge Vandewalle sought to clarify that Lail’s actions did, in fact, constitute a substantial step towards committing the murders. He wrote, “Lail did more than just engage in conversations about having [the two individuals] killed and took steps beyond that of mere preparation. In murder for hire cases, taking actions that could reasonably lead to the hired individual committing the solicited killing constitute a substantial step in attempting to commit the underlying crime. Lail’s solicitation accompanied by his assistance in formulating a plan to commit murder were concrete steps towards the commission of the crime. Even though Lail’s actions may be a floor of what is required for a substantial step, when considered together, these acts constitute a substantial step towards the commission of murder.”

The full opinion is available on the N.D. Supreme Court's website,


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