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Grand Forks murder suspect added to federal drug case

GRAND FORKS, N.D. --A growing federal drug conspiracy case has been linked in court documents to a Grand Forks murder for weeks, but it wasn't until Tuesday that the woman accused of shooting the man was named in the federal case.

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Krystal Feist

GRAND FORKS, N.D. --A growing federal drug conspiracy case has been linked in court documents to a Grand Forks murder for weeks, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that the woman accused of shooting the man was named in the federal case.

In recent days, the U.S. Attorney’s Office released three names added to the federal case, bringing the number of defendants to 12. Prosecutors added Christopher Ryan Ringsrud-Knowles, 33, on Friday and Lorie Ortiz, 31, on Monday.

On Tuesday, 31-year-old Krystal Lynn Feist joined the list of defendants.

Feist has been held at the Grand Forks Correctional Center since police found 24-year-old Austin Brant Forsman, of Grand Forks, dead in a vehicle March 11 at the Flying J truck stop, 4401 32nd Ave. S.

Initially, Feist was charged in Grand Forks District Court with murder, a Class AA felony, in connection with Forsman’s death, and she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison . Her requests for a lower bond and a speedy trial without delays have been turned down . Throughout her case, both the prosecution and defense have said her case might have “federal implications.”

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On Tuesday, her alleged role in the federal drug conspiracy was made public.

Her first federal court hearing is scheduled for Friday, and an indictment spells out the charges, including death caused by use of a firearm during a crime of violence, murder in furtherance of drug trafficking conspiracy and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance.

Of the 12 defendants in the case, one person’s name and charges have not been made public yet. Ten defendants, including Feist, face the drug trafficking conspiracy charge, accusing each of conspiring to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine in Minnesota and North Dakota. The other nine are Vaughn Michael Scott, 35; Aaron Lee Morado, 26; Christopher Alan Anderson, 36; Darla Kay Jerome, 37; Modesto Alfredo Torrez, 34; Andrew Robert Wiley, 26; Ryan Scott Franklin, 27; Andrew Neil Hills, 42; and Lorie Ortiz, 31.

They are also accused of using actual violence or threats of violence to further the conspiracy, including the murder of Forsman.

It wasn’t until Friday that murder-related charges showed up in the case through a superseding indictment, replacing the original indictment, but this new one hasn’t been made public.

Ringsrud-Knowles does not face the drug trafficking conspiracy charge like the other defendants, but he was charged with accessory after the fact to murder, witness tampering and evidence tampering.

Ortiz was also charged with accessory after the fact to murder.

Despite the federal case, Feist’s district court murder charge had not been dismissed as of Tuesday, and her next district court hearing is set for June 30.

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Related Topics: CRIME
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