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Man who Flying J murder suspect went to after shooting must stay in jail until trial, judge decides

A hearing Tuesday gave some insight into one of the recently added defendant's role in a federal meth trafficking case linked to a Grand Forks murder.

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Grand Forks police investigate a suspicious death at the Flying J Travel Plaza. (Wade Rupard/Grand Forks Herald)

A hearing Tuesday gave some insight into one of the recently added defendant's role in a federal meth trafficking case linked to a Grand Forks murder.

Judge Alice Senechal ordered Christopher Ryan Ringsrud-Knowles, 33, can't be released and must stay in custody until his trial, which is scheduled for Aug. 2. He is charged with accessory after the fact to murder, witness tampering and evidence tampering.

Ringsrud-Knowles is one of three suspects who was added in the last week to a 12-defendant federal case linked to the murder of 24-year-old Austin Brant Forsman of Grand Forks, who police found dead in a vehicle March 11 at the Flying J truck stop at 4401 32nd Ave. S.

The hearing was held Tuesday because U.S. Attorney Chris Myers asked Senechal to keep Ringsrud-Knowles in jail. Aside from pointing to his criminal history as a reason why he should stay in custody, Myers said Ringsrud-Knowles got rid of the weapon Krystal Lynn Feist, 31, is accused of using to kill Forsman.

Myers also claimed Ringsrud-Knowles "told a witness to keep his mouth shut" and erased messages after the murder.

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Ringsrud-Knowles' attorney, Luke Heck, argued his client should be released on electronic-home monitoring, go through drug-testing and have other conditions to keep him accountable leading up to his trial.

Ringsrud-Knowles' criminal history isn't as extensive as it initially appears, and amended charges or dismissed cases add to the length, Heck argued. Plus, "many, many, many of these charges occurred 15 to 16 years ago," Heck said.

"There's no legitimate danger to any individual," including witnesses because "there's no violent behavior on (Ringsrud-Knowles') part in this instance" relating to the murder, Heck said.

Myers responded to the violence comment by explaining that when Feist arrived at Ringsrud-Knowles' home after the murder with the murder weapon, Ringsrud-Knowles got angry and assaulted Feist.

Feist, who was initially charged with murder in Grand Forks District Court, was added to the federal case Tuesday and has pending 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. She doesn't appear in federal court until Friday afternoon.

Feist is one of 10 defendants in the case facing the drug trafficking conspiracy charge, which accuses each suspect of conspiring to distribute more than 500 grams of meth 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 also are accused of using actual violence or threats of violence to further the conspiracy, including the murder of Forsman.

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

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One person's case has not been made public yet.

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