A Texas County who made national news headlines last year after allegedly murdering wife has been found guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
Neldon Neal, 62, eluded capture for sixty two days following the shooting death of his wife, Judy Lewis, during a domestic disturbance in March 2007. According to police reports, Judy Lewis' former daughter-in-law, Marsha Sumrall, who lived with the couple did not like the way that Neal was treating Lewis and said something about it.
That angered Neal who went and got his shotgun and pointed it at the daughter-in-law. In a move that cost her her life, Judy Lewis stepped in front of the woman with her gun to protect her. Neal wrestled Lewis' gun from her, and fired one shot from it; that shot went through Lewis' heart and lung.
Lewis' daughter in law and a friend put the injured woman in her car, and they raced to Walt's convenience store in Roby to get help for Lewis, but, it was too late, she was already dead. While the women were attempting to get help for Lewis, Neal was gathering guns, and clothing determined he wasn't going to go back to prison.
In April, there was a break in the case. Authorities charged four women with providing the fugitive with food and supplies. The statements those women provided to police led them to a hollowed out tree in the Mark Twain Nation forest. Texas County Sheriff Carl Watson said that authorities were once so close to the tree to Neal could see their badges. Neal then moved about five miles through the forest and set up camp near a steep incline where he set up tarps, and slept in a sleeping bag in a very remote area of the forest.
Investigators with The Missouri State Highway Patrol found Neal along the Gasconade River in Laclede County. Authorities say the "drew him out," after following Neal's son to his hideout.
In May, Neal pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Neal admitted that he did indeed possess a Raven .25-caliber pistol when he fatally shot his wife in March of 2007. Neal also admitted that he was in possession of a handgun when he was apprehended in May of 2007.
Last month, Neal was sentenced on the federal charges, he received a 17 year sentence. That sentence will be served following whatever prison sentence he receives for Lewis' murder. He also owes the state some time on a nine year prison sentence for armed robbery as well.
The trial was moved to Pulaski County on a change of venue. Jury selection began last week in Moniteau County; the jury was bused to Pulaski County to hear testimony.
The normal range of punishment for voluntary manslaughter is five to fifteen years. However, due to Neal's prior criminal history and the armed criminal action charge Texas County prosecutor, Mike Anderson, said he believes Neal will receive a life sentence. That's thirty years in Missouri.
Neal is scheduled to be sentenced December 3rd.