At the remote desert outpost of Fort Mojave, Arizona, a group of soldiers gathered to drink on January 10, 1876. When one of those soldiers – Richard L. Lawler – passed out from drinking too much, four others – James Malone, Leopold Eith, James Henry, and James Wilcox – took the opportunity to kill the unpopular Lawler by stoning him to death. Lawler had previously testified against some soldiers during a court martial.
The soldiers then threw Lawler’s body into the Colorado River, expecting it to be swept away.
When Lawler’s body was found, an investigation was ordered. The four men were soon arrested, with evidence suggesting Malone’s role as the group’s leader.
The killing of a soldier is a federal offense. At trial in June 1876, Malone and Eith were found guilty and sentenced to death. The other two men were released in exchange for their testimony. After their convictions were affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, commutation requests were filed.
Eith’s request was granted and he was resentenced to life imprisonment.
James Malone was hanged on March 15, 1878. He is reported to have confessed from the gallows.