James Wasson and Johnny McLaughlin killed Henry Martin near Harney, Chickasaw Nation, in November 1881. Apparently out of fear of the dangerous reputations of the two men, they were allowed to leave the area despite witnesses to the killing.
Even when he returned to the area years later, Wasson remained unmolested by the police. Following some drinking on July 28, 1884, Wasson shot and killed another man, Almerine Watkins. When Watkins’ widow posted a generous bounty, Wasson was finally apprehended on September 28, 1884.
Taken to Fort Smith, Wasson was convicted of killing Martin and sentenced to death. His claim of self-defense did not persuade the jury.
Finally arrested, McLaughlin was tried three times for killing Martin. After two hung juries, he was acquitted. A conviction was expected; his wealthy and influential family may have affected the outcome.
James Wasson was hanged on April 23, 1886.