Man who allegedly shot and killed driver pleaded not guilty in B - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Man who allegedly shot and killed driver pleaded not guilty in Butler Co.

(Source: Renada House /cNews) (Source: Renada House /cNews)
Joseph Wisdom pleaded not guilty in court in Butler County on Thursday morning. (Source: Derrion Henderson/KFVS) Joseph Wisdom pleaded not guilty in court in Butler County on Thursday morning. (Source: Derrion Henderson/KFVS)
Joseph Wisdom (Source: Butler County Sheriff's Office) Joseph Wisdom (Source: Butler County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Poplar Bluff Police Department) (Source: Poplar Bluff Police Department)
(Source: Poplar Bluff Police Department/Facebook) (Source: Poplar Bluff Police Department/Facebook)
POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) -

The suspect in the shooting death of a man whose body was found in his car in the parking lot of the Poplar Bluff Walmart appeared in court Thursday morning. 

Joseph Wisdom, 33, was charged with second degree murder. Wisdom pleaded not guilty to those charges before a Butler County judge.

According to Butler County Coroner Jim Akers, the victim is 50-year-old Stahl Sturgeon of Doniphan.

He said Sturgeon had multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and neck. An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday, March 9.

According to the probable cause statement, at about 7:08 a.m. on Tuesday, March 8, Poplar Bluff police responded to Walmart on South Westwood Boulevard for a report of someone possibly being shot near the north door of the store.

The responding officers say they found several people gathered near a black car. They say a man, later identified as Stahl Sturgeon, was found dead in the driver's seat of the Toyota Camry.

According to the officers, Sturgeon appeared to have multiple gunshot wounds.

Officers say they then learned a man, later identified as Joseph Wisdom, was laying on his stomach, in Walmart, with his hands out to each side. He was then restrained and placed inside of a patrol car.

According to the probable cause, store surveillance showed Wisdom arrived at the store in the Camry and getting out of the driver's side. He then allegedly went into the store where he took off his shirt and laid on the floor.

As an officer restrained Wisdom, he alleged said, "he shot me, he shot my finger, man."

Wisdom also allegedly said, "He's in the car. He shot me first," while being escorted out of the business.

Wisdom was then taken to the police department where he was interviewed.

His bond was set at $250,000 cash only. There is a case review scheduled for March 21.

Also on Tuesday morning, the Poplar Bluff junior high school was placed on lockdown.

According to Poplar Bluff Superintendent Chris Hon, the junior high school was put on lock down as students were arriving between 7:20 and 7:40 a.m.

The students were held in the gym as a precautionary measure. Hon said the students were never in danger.

According to Hon, the students were allowed to go to class after police notified the school that a suspect was in custody.

Officers interview witnesses

When they talked to several witnesses, including Wisdom's girlfriend, mother and stepfather, officers say when Wisdom and his girlfriend arrived at his mother and stepfather's house, he allegedly assaulted her by repeatedly hitting her in the face and head.

Officers say Wisdom's girlfriend described him as being paranoid and stating, "I know you are trying to have me killed."

Wisdom's mother told officers she tried to calm Wisdom and eventually contacted an ambulance to treat him. After being medically cleared, Wisdom's mother said he and his girlfriend stayed for the rest of the night.

At about 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 8, Wisdom and his mother and stepfather discussed rehab. Wisdom allegedly agreed to go.

While riding on Highway 160, near the elementary school, with his stepfather, Wisdom allegedly grabbed the steering wheel and jerked it, nearly causing a wreck. When his stepfather pulled into the drive of the school, Wisdom allegedly jumped from the truck and ran to a house on Highway 160.

A woman told officers she heard a knock on her door and answered it, thinking it may be her son. However, she said a it was a man, allegedly screaming that someone was going to kill him.

The woman said she shut and locked the door and Butler County deputies were called.

She said the man walked back to the highway, allegedly waiving his arms and trying to get someone to stop. She said she saw a black car stop and roll the window down; and then the man allegedly got into the passenger side of the car.

Officers also interviewed a man who was driving east on Highway 160. As he topped the hill west of the school, the man told them he saw a black Toyota Camry stopped in the middle of the road.

He said he saw a man standing outside of the car on the passenger side. He said the man then got into the car on the passenger side. Officers say the man told them he followed the car going toward Poplar Bluff.

According to court documents, while just south of a gas station, the vehicle slammed on its brakes.

The man told officers he saw two people in the car fighting, and that one of the car's windows was busted out.

The man said he pulled in front of the car and onto the shoulder of the road. He said he saw the passenger open the door and get out of the car.

According to the man, the passenger stood near the car and fired a handgun in his direction. The man said he heard two to three gunshots. He said he then drove off, going north, on Highway 67 before being passed by the black car a short time later.

The man told officers he pulled to the shoulder of the road where he was contacted by a woman.

He said the woman told him she saw the vehicle on Highway 160 and Highway 67. While going north on Highway 67, the woman said she saw the car slam on its brakes and a window "blow out."

She claimed the driver's door opened and a man stuck a gun out and allegedly shot in her direction. The man then got out of the car and allegedly got into a crouched position where he continued firing. She said she heard at least three gunshots.

According to the probable cause statement, another witness going northbound on Highway 67 claimed to have heard five to six "pops" and saw a man get out of the passenger side of a black Toyota.

The witness told officers as she drove past the car, a man came around behind it and allegedly pointed a handgun at her. As she went north on Highway 67, she said the car passed her at a high rate of speed.

Wisdom's interview

During his interview with officers, Wisdom allegedly gave multiple statements; including that he had allegedly been using meth and had not slept in some time.

According to the probable cause statement, he also told officers his girlfriend took him to his mother and stepfather's house on Monday night, March 7. He allegedly said his stepfather and cousin told him that someone wanted to kill him.

Wisdom told them that on Tuesday morning he left with his stepfather to check into a rehab facility. On the way, Wisdom claimed his stepfather pulled a gun out.

He said he jumped out of the vehicle while it was moving and ran to a house. He told officers a woman at the house  would not let him inside, so he ran to the highway and flagged down a passing vehicle.

Wisdom went on to say he tried calling the police department and the driver pulled over. He claimed the driver reached into the center console and allegedly pulled out a gun.

According to court documents, Wisdom said he and the driver fought for control of the gun and that it went off, injuring his hand. He allegedly said he got control of the gun and shot the driver.

Wisdom said he then got out of the car and noticed another vehicle had stopped. He allegedly told officers he fired at the vehicle to try to keep them away.

He said he tried to pull the driver out of the car, but was not able to, so he sat in the driver's lap and drove away. He allegedly said he planned to drive to the police department, but went to Walmart instead.

Wisdom said he took his shirt off and laid down at the store so everyone could see he was unarmed.

Also during the interview, Wisdom was asked how many times he shot the driver. Wisdom allegedly replied, "I just kept pulling the trigger."

When asked what he did with the weapon, he said he thought he threw it into the back seat of the vehicle.

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