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Woman admits to killing husband, charges say

FNS Photo by Dave Wallis Sherry Midstokke listens to charges Wednesday in the Cass County Courthouse in Fargo. Midstokke, 60, is charged with the murder of her husband, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole if she were to be convicted.

FARGO — A 60-year-old woman accused of killing her husband Monday in Finley told investigators she killed him with “drugs and asphyxiation,” officials claim in charges filed Wednesday.

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Sherry Ann Midstokke, 60, was arraigned Wednesday in Cass County District Court to face a Class AA felony murder charge in the death of her husband, Lyle, 66. The charge carries a potential sentence of life in prison without parole.

Midstokke was charged Wednesday in Steele County District Court, but Steele County State’s Attorney Charlie Stock said her arraignment was handled in Cass County to expedite the court process. Steele County conducts court only once a month.

Midstokke called 911 about 7:30 a.m. Monday and said she had just returned home from work as a nursing assistant and found her husband dead, according to Steele County Sheriff Wayne Beckman.

Charges say that Lyle Midstokke was found on the floor of their bedroom next to the bed.

Later that day, the report alleged, Sherry Midstokke admitted in an interview with special agents with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation that she intentionally killed her husband.

No motive for the killing is mentioned in the charges, but the report says physical evidence at the crime scene backs up Midstokke’s admission. Authorities say in the report that the evidence includes items used to asphyxiate the 66-year-old.

Asphyxiation is the restriction of oxygen, which could happen by strangling or other means.

Midstokke asked the court to lower her bail from $500,000, telling Judge Steven Marquart she was not a flight risk, nor a danger to the community. “And I can’t pay it,” she added.

Stock raised concerns about the state of Midstokke’s mental health, and said she had not yet been psychologically evaluated.

Marquart agreed to leave the bail at $500,000 and revisit the issue at a status conference Feb. 26 in Steele County Court.

Midstokke told the judge she plans to hire Vogel Law defense attorney Bruce Quick to represent her.

Midstokke, who turns 61 on Saturday, grew up in Finley, as did her husband, Beckman said.

She was a certified nursing assistant at facilities in the area, he said.

Lyle Midstokke worked for a farmer. The couple have three adult children and several grandchildren.

Midstokke is being held at the Cass County Jail.

Stephen J. Lee contributed to this report.