MINOT, N.D. — A detective testified Monday that Christopher Alan Vickerman, 28, had a "strained relationship" with his father, Mark Vickerman, 55, since around the time of the 2011 Souris River flood.
Vickerman pleaded not guilty in district court in Minot to the May 10 Class AA felony murder of his father.
Minot Police Detective Cole Strandemo testified during a preliminary hearing that police interviewed friends and relatives of the victim and initially had been investigating the possibility of another suspect in the shooting death but "it always came back to Chris."
Witnesses consistently told police that Christopher Vickerman had a difficult relationship with his father.
According to Strandemo's testimony and a probable cause affidavit filed with the court, security video at Mark Vickerman's northwest Minot residence showed Mark Vickerman going to the front door, opening it, and then falling backwards down the stairs. He was shot at 1:59 p.m. on Friday, May 10. Mark Vickerman had cameras in his downstairs workshop, angled up the stair way toward the front foyer of his residence.
The assailant, who can only be seen from the knees down, is then seen on the video stepping into the foyer of the home. The assailant was wearing a darker colored sleeved top and shoes with white soles and something on his left wrist when he picked up bullet casings. After the murder the assailant is seen on video letting Mark Vickerman's dog, which had run outside when the door first opened, back into the residence. Christopher Vickerman called police at 3:44 p.m. on May 10 from his father's residence to report that his father was dead. When police arrived, Vickerman was sitting on a bench outside the house wearing maroon colored work pants, a grayish black sweatshirt with white spatter on it, shoes with a white bottom sole and duct tape on one, and yellow bands on both wrists.
An autopsy on Mark Vickerman revealed that he was shot in the chest and four .22 caliber bullets were recovered from his body. Police also recovered a .22 caliber bullet fragment from a wall inside Mark Vickerman's residence. There was also a bullet casing recovered near a bench outside the door that Christopher Vickerman was sitting on when police arrived. The ballistics evidence was sent away to the state crime lab, which then sent the evidence on to a second lab for analysis. None of the results are back yet. Police also seized a .22 caliber firearm from Christopher Vickerman's apartment, but analysis on that firearm is also not back yet.
Christopher Vickerman had said he had been working all day except when he left for lunch and told police he had gone over to his father's home to sell his father a gun.
Video from Christopher Vickerman's worksite showed him leaving one time at 11:41 a.m., then returning at 12:41 p.m. and then leaving the worksite a second time at 1:31 p.m. and returning at 2:05 p.m. Other video from the surrounding businesses showed that Christopher Vickerman's vehicle was in the area of his father's home at the time of the murder. Strandemo testified on Monday that neighbors of Mark Vickerman's were interviewed and none of them reported seeing Christopher Vickerman's car or Christopher Vickerman that afternoon.
Judge Doug Mattson found probable cause to let the case move forward and Christopher Vickerman entered his not guilty plea. A pre-trial conference in the case is scheduled for Oct. 3.