The preliminary examination of Fred. P. Johnson, charged with the killing of Neil lane, on the 25th ult., was held before Probate Judge Chas. S. Hartman, on Thursday last. The court house was pretty well filled with witnesses and spectators, which showed that more than ordinary interest was being taken in the proceedings and result. D.C. Campbell, in behalf of the Territory, appeared as Deputy District Attorney, and Vivion & Shelton for the defense. Six witnesses testified in behalf of the Territory and thirteen for the defense. The general drift of the testimony was to the effect that lane provoked the assault; that he had repeatedly threatened the life of Johnson at Coke City, Gardiner, Livingston, and Bozeman—at Cooke City as early as October last. Everything tended to show that Lane had deliberately determined and planned to kill Johnson, and that on the day of the homicide such purpose had so far progressed that it became a question to be promptly decided by Johnson whether to kill or be killed. Counsel waived argument in the matter, submitting the case immediately after the witnesses had given in their testimony. The Judge reserved his decision until the following morning, when the following order was by him made: “It appearing from the evidence herein that there is not probably cause for believing the defendant guilty, it is hereby ordered that he be discharged.”
The decision of Judge Hartman in the case seems to meet with universal approval.
The Helena Independent, March 18, 1893
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