Howard (or Harry) Morris and Frank Robert were white men traveling through the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana in September 1877. After stopping to rest, Robert robbed and killed Morris.
After Morris’s body was found, an investigation led to Robert’s arrest. He was found with Morris’s property. Though Robert confessed to the killing, he said he acted in self-defense. Further investigation found that Robert’s explanation of the events was not consistent with the evidence.
Because the killing occurred on an Indian reservation, Robert was tried in federal court in Virginia City, Montana. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death on September 16, 1878.
After his conviction was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court and his clemency request was denied by President Hayes, Frank Robert was hanged on October 31, 1878. In his final statement, he claimed he acted in self-defense.