FARGO — One of two men accused of killing a Fargo food truck operator in June entered “not guilty” pleas on Wednesday, Aug. 14, to charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Charles Edward Harris III, of Fargo, is accused in Cass County District Court, along with a co-defendant, Kareem Lee Byrd Jr., also of Fargo, in the death of Jason “Jay” Allen Halvorson.
Halvorson, 38, was mortally wounded about 1 a.m. on June 7, near his food truck, Texas Q BBQ and Catering, which at the time was parked in the parking lot of the former Sahr’s Sudden Service station on the northern edge of the city’s downtown.
Harris’ appearance in court Wednesday included a preliminary hearing, during which a Fargo police detective testified about details of the investigation as it unfolded following the shooting.
According to Detective Josh Loos:
A man who was walking his dog on the sidewalk next to the former service station the morning of the shooting told police he encountered two men who exchanged a few words with him as they walked by him.
The witness related to police how he heard gunfire erupt moments later. Loos said when authorities arrived, they found Halvorson to be the apparent victim of a shooting and seven 9 mm shell casings.
A Clay County sheriff’s deputy heard about the incident over police radio, took a position on the state border and spotted a minivan carrying a passenger whose appearance matched a description of a suspect.
A North Dakota Highway Patrol unit stopped the minivan, which was driven by a woman and carried Harris and Byrd among its passengers, said Loos, who added that three young children were also in the vehicle.
A search of the vehicle yielded a backpack carrying a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and a .22-caliber revolver, according to Loos.
Byrd told police both he and Harris shot at Halvorson, Byrd using the .22-caliber handgun and Harris using the 9 mm semiautomatic, according to Loos.
Judge Wade Webb ruled that based on the record, including Loos’ testimony, there was sufficient probable cause to support the charges against Harris; Webb ordered that Harris stay in jail in lieu of bail, which remained at $2 million, cash only.
Byrd also remained in the Cass County Jail Wednesday.
At the time they were charged in June, Byrd was 19 and Harris was 30.
The charges against Harris and Byrd are Class AA felonies, which carry a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole.