Fargo murder suspect claims he was being poisoned; judge orders $1 million bail
FARGO – A 24-year-old Fargo man believed the roommate he’s accused of killing Thursday night had been trying to poison him, according to court records.
Christopher Paul Hampton made his initial appearance Friday in Cass County District Court on a Class AA felony charge of intentional murder.
He’s accused of shooting roommate Randall Doehner, 28, twice from behind, once in the back and once in the back of the head, according to a court complaint.
Prosecutor Ryan Younggren asked for $1 million bail at Friday’s arraignment, which Hampton called “ridiculous.”
“I was hoping I could get something more reasonable than that so I could make bail by my next hearing,” Hampton said.
Judge Steven Marquart set bail at the $1 million the prosecution requested.
Hampton lived with Doehner and Doehner’s fiancée, Stefani Desjarlais, in the downstairs unit of a two-unit rental house, according to the complaint.
Doehner and Desjarlais returned home about 8:15 p.m. Thursday night.
Hampton offered Doehner a muscle relaxant, but the pair instead went outside to smoke a cigarette, Desjarlais told police.
After less than a minute, Desjarlais heard gunshots and found Doehner on the ground bleeding next to a gun, she told police. “Chris shot me,” Doehner allegedly told her.
Police responded just after 8:30 p.m. and detained Hampton and a witness.
According to the charges, Hampton admitted three times to shooting Doehner – once on the 911 call, once at the scene and once in an interview immediately after the shooting.
But Hampton claimed self-defense, police say.
Doehner was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, and an autopsy performed Friday determined that both gunshot wounds were fatal shots.
Before the shooting, Hampton had been claiming that Doehner was trying to poison him. He had even called police to report his roommate for poisoning him. A test performed on Hampton didn’t detect any poison, but was positive for amphetamines and THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, police allege in the charges.
The pistol used in the shooting actually belonged to Desjarlais. The weekend before, she lent it to Hampton for his protection because he had a habit of sleeping without locking the doors or windows at night, the charges say.
The tenant upstairs, Richard Grant, told police he heard three gunshots but did not see the incident, though he noticed a man on his cellphone outside the house shortly after the shots were fired.
Hampton’s public defender, Jay Greenwood, could not be reached for comment.
While the relationship between the victim and suspect remains unclear, the two muscular, tattooed men attended Wayne County High School in rural Waynesboro, Tenn.
Hampton didn’t graduate from the school, but Doehner did in 2003. School Principal David Byrd said he remembered Hampton and knew his family well.
“He was always a pleasant kid,” Byrd recalled.
Doehner and Hampton eventually made their way to jobs at Strom Engineering Corp. in Hopkins, Minn., before settling in Fargo, their Facebook profiles show.
Deb Bush has operated a day care for 18 years just east of the house where the shooting took place. She was in the front yard supervising seven children ages 1 to 10 on Friday as she looked over the crime scene cordoned off by yellow tape.
Bush said she hadn’t heard about the shooting until one of the day care children’s fathers asked her if she was OK.
The house in question had “huge turnover” and “whoever goes in there pretty much stays to themselves,” she said.
Bush said she has not told the children anything about it yet because that is for their parents to do.
“It’s kind of a sad deal,” she said. “It’s all unnecessary.”