James Wisdom's Murder of William Judy
He flourished a pistol and starting swearing and verbally abusing Judy, who was presumably one of the men the deputy had come to arrest. Wisdom threatened to kill Judy if he didn't get on his horse and let the deputy ride behind. The young man volunteered to walk and let Wisdom ride the horse, but the older man insisted on riding behind Judy and continued to threaten and curse him. Finally Judy mounted up and rode over to a stump so that Wisdom could get on behind him. The two men rode off with Wisdom reaching around the other man to control the reins.
Some people on foot who trailed behind Wisdom and his captive heard shots and soon came upon Judy's dead body along the roadside not far from where the dance had been held. The next morning, Judy's horse was found at Wisdom's home, the deputy apparently having ridden it home after the murder. Wisdom claimed to have no memory of the events of the night before except for arriving at the dance with the warrants.
Wisdom was tried for first degree murder at the April 1884 term of McDonald County Circuit Court and found guilty and sentenced to hang. Wisdom appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, but the high court upheld the verdict around the first of March 1885 and set the execution for March 27. Governor John S. Marmaduke, however, intervened on March 17 and commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.
Wisdom was received at the Missouri State Prison in Jefferson City on March 24, 1885, to begin serving his life term. In 1887, however, he fell ill, and his family, friends, and a sympathetic physician petitioned for his release, based on their belief that he was in the late stages of consumption (tuberculosis) and had only a few weeks to live. Governor Albert Morehouse pardoned the convicted murderer on October 8, 1887, only two and a half years after he had been committed to prison, and Wisdom went home, supposedly to die. However, he soon regained his health and went on the live many years as a free man, even though he'd been convicted of first degree murder. At the time of the 1900 census, he was living in Oklahoma Territory with his wife and three adult children.