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Trial in 2015 double homicide now slated for May

FARGO--Ashley Hunter will stand trial May 22 on charges that he killed two men and set fire to the home of one of the victims to cover his tracks. At least, the case is supposed go to trial that day. Earlier trial dates, one in June and one in Oc...

Ashley Hunter listens to his court-appointed attorney Steven Mottinger during a hearing for his request for different council Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Fargo. Hunter said he would rather represent himself on murder charges than continue to work with Mottinger. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Ashley Hunter listens to his court-appointed attorney Steven Mottinger during a hearing for his request for different council Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Fargo. Hunter said he would rather represent himself on murder charges than continue to work with Mottinger. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO-Ashley Hunter will stand trial May 22 on charges that he killed two men and set fire to the home of one of the victims to cover his tracks.

At least, the case is supposed go to trial that day.

Earlier trial dates, one in June and one in October of this year, were canceled due to issues involving lawyers representing Hunter, who is accused of killing Clarence Flowers and Sam Traut in June of 2015.

The first trial date was continued after the court granted Hunter's request that he be allowed to fire his attorney at the time, Steven Mottinger, after Hunter claimed a breakdown in communication between himself and his lawyer.

The second trial date was canceled after Nick Thornton, a defense attorney who replaced Mottinger, asked for permission to withdraw from the case over a potential conflict of interest.

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Hunter is now defended by attorney Kevin McCabe.

The crimes

Hunter was arrested the morning of June 23, 2015, on an outstanding warrant, and after he was given his rights he was taken to the Fargo Police Department and interviewed.

Court documents say Hunter told investigators he stabbed Flowers multiple times because Hunter was angry with Flowers, whose body was found the day before, for stealing his girlfriends and for overcharging him for drugs.

Court documents say Hunter told investigators he killed Traut by beating him in the head with a hammer.

Hunter told police that at the time he was staying at 1119 N. University Drive in Fargo, and he said he jumped the property's back fence to get to the back door of Traut's house at 1122 12th St. N.

When Traut came to the door, Hunter told police he asked Traut for a glass of water and Traut went to get one.

It took some time for Traut to return and Hunter said he became paranoid that Traut was calling police.

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When Traut returned with a cup of water Hunter said he hit him in the head with a hammer several times until Traut stopped fighting back, according to court documents, which also state that Hunter set fire to Traut's apartment to cover up the killing.

It's also alleged in court documents that Hunter talked about the crimes to a nurse who tended to him at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo the day of his arrest.

Adamant denial

Hunter said in a jailhouse interview last summer that he was innocent of the crimes and law enforcement was trying to pin the murder on him because of his past brushes with the law.

Hunter has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and one count of arson.

In addition to those charges, Hunter faces three counts of theft in Cass County District Court for allegedly stealing three cars.

The theft charges are on hold until after the murder and arson charges are resolved.

Related Topics: CRIME
I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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