By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Charges filed in Custer County Justice Court against a former Montana State University-Northern wrestling coach have been dropped, the Custer County attorney said Tuesday.
Michael Lane, a former assistant coach and health and physical education instructor at Northern, was arrested on charges of attempted deliberate homicide and aggravated burglary, both felonies, and two counts of misdemeanor assault after an incident in Miles City on May 2. Lane was accused of pushing a Miles Community College student nearly over the railing of a 15-foot apartment balcony and threatening to kill her, according to a Miles City police report.
The Custer County justice of the peace dismissed the charges at the request of Custer County Attorney Garry Bunke.
"The reasons given in the motion for the request for dismissal are that based on information in the form of other eyewitness accounts (that were not available to the investigating officer until a more extensive examination of the facts was conducted), that sufficient mitigating factors existed to rule out prosectuion at the felony level," Bunke said in a press release.
"Subsequent investigation revealed a significant variance in the accounts of various witnesses present at the time of the alleged offenses," the release said.
Bunke declined to comment on the mitigating factors, saying the case has been referred to the Miles City city attorney for consideration of possible misdemeanor charges.
A 1999 Northern graduate and two-time NAIA All-American wrestler, Lane had left Northern and planned to pursue graduate studies when the incident occurred, Northern head wrestling coach David Ray has said. Lane had traveled to Miles City to help a local rancher brand, Ray said.
The initial police report said officers responded when a caller said a man was assaulting a woman at an apartment building in Miles City. Witnesses at the scene said Lane had grabbed 20-year-old Sadie Johnson of Browning, pushed her nearly over the railing around the apartment's balcony and threatened to kill her, the report said.
Two of Johnson's neighbors entered the apartment and pulled Lane and Johnson away from the balcony and restrained Lane, the report said. When the two returned to their own apartment, Lane followed them and began assaulting them, the report said.
The report said that when police arrived, Lane and several of his friends were fighting with Johnson's two neighbors and several of their friends.