James Wasson

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.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: