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Montano arraigned on murder charges

t2018 -- Carlton County Jail -- Montano, James Francis -- James Francis Montano (dob: 07/24/1985), suspect in Carlton County homicide

James Francis Montano walked into the Carlton County courtroom Monday morning wearing the standard-issue orange jumpsuit for his arraignment. His hands were cuffed in front of him and his broken jaw was wired shut.

His attorney, Nicole Flynn Bettendorf Hopps informed Judge Leslie Beiers her client would just be nodding in answer to questions instead of answering out loud due to injuries.

Montano is charged with murder in the first degree, attempted murder in the first degree and assault in the second degree.

As the attorney asked Montano if he understood the charges, he nodded in affirmation.

The 32-year-old Bayfield, Wis., man was assaulted in jail by fellow inmates Stephen Smith and Lance Houle, according to Carlton County Attorney Thomas Pertler. He said charges against the two men had been filed.

According to the criminal complaint, Montano surprised his uncle, Andrew James Gokee, 57, and his cousin, Hudson Gauthier, at Gokee's residence in Progress Township, rural Carlton County, on April 20.

Carlton County Law Enforcement received a 911 call to 4020 Kari Rd., Sawyer, around 11:30 p.m. from Montano's father, Michael Montano, 53, who also resided in the home.

Gokee and Gauthier had been in the process of leaving the residence when Montano, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and carrying a firearm, surprised the men.

Montano allegedly told Gauthier he was not joking around and planned to kill his uncle and cousin. He then fired toward the men. Gauthier was grazed by a bullet as he was ducking. Gokee was later discovered to be shot in the head and died at a hospital early the following morning.

Gauthier screamed for the elder Montano to come out of the house and help them.

As his pleas for help went unheeded, Gauthier went into the house and retrieved a .22 caliber pistol. After he came back out of the house, he checked on his father, who lay on the ground bleeding from the head wound.

Montano allegedly approached his uncle and cousin again. Gauthier told him to stay back, but Montano continued to approach the men.

After firing a warning shot at the ground and being ignored, Gauthier aimed toward Montano and fired.

Montano ran through the woods and into a field where he was discovered more than three hours later by law enforcement and arrested.

The incident is still under investigation. No motive for the deadly attack has been made public.

If found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder, Montano could receive life in prison.

Montano is scheduled to appear in Carlton County Court at 9 a.m. June 4.

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