Dusty Ray Francis, 1984-2016.
Law
Prosecutors drop charges in fatal stabbing on Northern Cheyenne Reservation
Federal prosecutors have dropped charges in connection with a fatal stabbing on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana.

Dusty Ray Francis died in a home in Lame Deer on October 5, 2016. He was 32 years old at the time, according to his obituary.

Nine months later, a federal grand jury charged Cary Zane Todd Alden, 24, with voluntary manslaughter. Prosecutors said he stabbed Francis following a night of drinking.

But a federal judge declared a mistrial in April after a jury was unable to conclude Alden was responsible for the crime, The Billings Gazette reported. And rather than try him again, prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss the indictment last week.

"At this time, the United States is unable to carry its burden to prove the count contained in the indictment against the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt," the June 20 motion read. It was granted that same day, according to court records.


Francis's Cheyenne name was Matano, or "Bowstring," according to his obituary. He worked as a seasonal fire fighter for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and left behind two young children.

According to the July 2017 indictment, Alden is an "Indian person." His tribal affiliation has not been reported but a relative said Francis was his cousin.

"My family has literally been torn apart from all this and it’s been hard enough," the relative said on Facebook as the trial began in federal court on April 23.

Read More on the Story:
Charges dropped against Lame Deer man accused of fatal stabbing (The Billings Gazette June 26, 2018)
Mistrial declared in 2016 Lame Deer homicide case (The Billings Gazette April 26, 2018)
Mistrial Declared in 2016 Lame Deer Voluntary Manslaughter Trial (KULR April 23, 2018)