The publication by James King in the Evening Bulletin of the sentence of James Casey to Sing Sing Prison is often regarded as the first in California and as the sole cause of the determination of Casey to kill King. But while it is possible that the prominence of the Bulletin added to the murderous rage of Casey at the time, the news that Casey had been an inmate in the famous prison in New York was long in the public domain in San Francisco.
On November 2, 1855, in a trial before the court of sessions over a matter of the alleged assault with a deadly weapon in an election fight that took place at the corner of Kearny and Pine Streets in August of the same year, Casey testified that he had served eighteen months in prison for larceny and this admission was published in all San Francisco newspapers then.
About twenty shots were exchanged in the incident, with Cushing, Bagley and their friends on one side and Casey and his friends on the other. Bagley was wounded in the back and Cushing suffered a serious cut on the breast. The California Chronicle went even further the next day with a strong and violent expose on the relationship between Casey as a county supervisor and his time in Sing Sing prison. A portion of that same editorial was republished in the Bulletin two days later. By May 14, 1856 the imprisonment of Casey was old news.
That serious effort had been made to silence James King, either by buying him out or taking over a controlling interest in the Bulletin, had not been successful was well known. King could not be bribed and would not be frightened so all that was left was to kill him. In light of this it appears likely that James Casey, a man of poor character with a violent temper, was used to that end by men of an equally bad nature but far greater prominence in San Francisco. At the time it was supposed by many that a conspiracy of such prominent men had formed with the intent to kill King but no proof of such a cabal has ever been produced.
John Putnam is the author of Hangtown Creek, a thrilling saga of the early California gold rush available online.