The county grand jury convened on October 23, 1854, and considered charges for two lynchings of Indians that had occurred, one in July 1853, of Masachie Jim, and two on April 12, 1854, of suspects in the murder of James B. McCormick (reported missing in July 1853). One of the suspects was William Heebner, a member of the grand jury. He had to be excused while the panel considered the question.
Heebner, Maurer, and Collins were indicted for strangling Masachie Jim. Citizens immediately collected funds for the defense. Dr. David Maynard (1808-1873) headed the list with a pledge of $150. The prosecution was brought by U.S. Attorney Elwood Evans and Territorial prosecutor Frank Clark. The defense team included Captain Joseph Cushman of the Revenue Cutter Jefferson Davis.
Maurer, "a simple-minded Dutchman," stated, "I suppose I is guilty, Shudge" (Watt). The plea was later amended to "not guilty." Maurer and Heebner were acquitted at trial. The prosecutors dropped the charge against Collins.