Murder case moves to District Court

By Sarah Pridgeon

A somber crowd filled the courtroom on Friday, waiting in near silence for Circuit Court Judge Matthew Castano to oversee a joint preliminary hearing for Jessie Johnson and Marty Smith. The pair stand accused of causing the death of local resident Doug Haar in the early hours of August 1 during an altercation at the Sundance Travel Center.

The preliminary hearing began around 30 minutes after its scheduled time and was completed in a matter of minutes. Entering the courtroom, Judge Castano apologized for the delay and said, “We will be proceeding differently to what was anticipated.”

Bond for both Smith and Johnson had originally been set at $100,000 each, cash only. Discussions immediately before the preliminary led to Castano changing this to also allow commercial surety, with approval from counsel on both sides.

All bond conditions remain as initially set, said the judge, warning the defendants to, “Make sure you closely review those conditions of bond.”

Johnson and Smith both having waived their right to a preliminary hearing, the case will now be passed upwards to the Sixth Judicial District Court. Before the court passed on its jurisdiction of the case, Judge Castano took a moment to thank the audience and public for their orderly conduct so far.

“There’s no situation here that can be made better by any outbursts,” he said, asking that the public continue its orderly behavior as the case progresses.

Johnson has been charged with murder in the second degree and felony counts of voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault and battery.

Smith has been charged with accessory before the fact of murder in the second degree and felony counts of accessory before the fact of voluntary manslaughter, accessory before the fact of involuntary manslaughter and accessory before the fact of aggravated assault and battery.