The voluntary manslaughter conviction of a man from Texas County has been overturned by the Missouri Court of Appeals.

In March of 2007 Neldon Neal, 63, was charged with second-degree murder for the death of his wife Judy Lewis at the Roby home the couple shared.

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 allegedly angered Neal who went and got a shotgun and pointed it at Sumrall. Prosecutors say that Judy Lewis stepped in front of Sumrall armed a gun of her own to protect her daughter-in-law. Neal wrestled Lewis' gun from her, and fired one shot from it; that bullet tore through Lewis' heart and lung.

Neal fled the scene and was on the run for sixty-two days. He was finally located in a remote area of the Mark Twain National Forest.

The Court of Appeals agreed on February 10th, that although the death occurred in the course of an argument between Neal and his wife, the state had agreed that it was not in the "heat of passion," a necessary element for a voluntary manslaughter conviction.

The Appeals Court said the jury should not have been able to deliberate that element of the crime and overturned the conviction.

Neal cannot be recharged with second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter because of double jeopardy.

Prosecutor Mike Anderson could file involuntary manslaughter charges against Neal but may choose not to because he will now have to serve a federal sentence on gun charges related to the death of Lewis.

In September of 2008 Neal pleaded guilty to charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm; he received a 17 year sentence for that crime. He also owes the state some time on a nine year prison sentence for armed robbery making the likelihood of him ever getting out of prison remote.

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