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Accused shooter in Fargo murder trial called 911, claimed he was in danger

FARGO -- Moments after he shot and killed his cousin and fled from their north Fargo apartment, Christopher Hampton called 911 and claimed his cousin and his cousin's girlfriend were trying to kill him. On Thursday, jurors in Hampton's trial on a...

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Christopher Paul Hampton watches potential jurors return to a court room at the Cass County District Courthouse in Fargo, N.D., on Monday, July 13, 2015 after recess in a voir dire hearing in the case of which he is accused of committing Class AA murder. Nick Wagner / The Forum

 

FARGO -- Moments after he shot and killed his cousin and fled from their north Fargo apartment, Christopher Hampton called 911 and claimed his cousin and his cousin's girlfriend were trying to kill him.

On Thursday, jurors in Hampton's trial on a murder charge in Randall Doehner's killing heard that 911 call made shortly after 8 p.m. June 26, 2014, a call prosecutors say was a calculated step to set up a claim of self-defense. Police say there was no sign of a struggle in the home.

In the recording played in the Cass County District Court trial Thursday, Hampton breathlessly described for a police dispatcher how Doehner, his roommate, had come at him with a gun, before something fell out of the pistol and Hampton was able to wrestle it away.

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"Yes ma'am, he pulled a [expletive] pistol on me," Hampton said in a distinctive Southern accent. She then asked him where his cousin had been shot.

"I don't even know, I blacked out," he replies.

Hampton is accused of shooting Doehner twice from behind, once in the head and once in the back, outside the north Fargo apartment where they lived together.

At the time, Stephanie Desjarlais, Doehner's girlfriend, was in the home calling 911, too.

As another dispatcher led Desjarlais through the steps of CPR to try to save the dying Doehner, Hampton was less than a block away, pleading with a dispatcher to send an officer to the house.

"I can't go in there, his girlfriend's in there with a shotgun, too," he told the dispatcher. "They're trying to kill me."

In the days leading up to the shooting, Hampton had visited area hospitals a half dozen times, insisting Doehner had been secretly poisoning him.

No poison was found, but traces of marijuana and amphetamines were, doctors testified.

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In another recording, this one of Hampton's trip with police to Essentia Health after the shooting, this time to have his blood tested, he can be heard again insisting, "I know for a fact he was coming at me when I shot him."

Ryan Nilson, the case agent for the Fargo police, took the stand Thursday to say no signs of a struggle were found anywhere in Doehner's and Hampton's home. On cross-examination, he admitted the two men could have fought in an open space in the kitchen, leaving nothing disturbed.

The two men's former employer also took the stand to say Doehner had never displayed any signs of drinking on the job, or of having a short temper or violent manner, which the defense has alleged about the victim.

Doehner was ready to move his family out of the home they shared with his cousin, Brian deVries testified.

"He was ready to be alone with his family," he said. "He was excited about this new baby and he was ready to separate himself."

Hampton faces a Class AA felony charge of murder, which can carry a lifetime term in prison without parole upon conviction. Testimony in the trial began Tuesday and is scheduled to last up to two weeks.

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