In 1855, a prominent incident in Terry's life came about when he took up the cause of the "Widow Sanchez".Maria Encarnacion Ortega de Sanchez, the widow of a wealthy rancher, was being cheated by local authorities, including the Sheriff, William Roach, who took her fortune under the guise of guardianship. After kidnapping Roach with the help of a local gunslinger named Anastacio Garcia, they held Roach in a jail cell in Stockton until he agreed to release the widow's gold. But Roach had bribed a guard to ride to Monterey and urge Roach's family to hide the gold. The treasure was hidden somewhere in Carmel Valley by Roach's brother-in-law, Jerry MacMahon. MacMahon was killed in a barroom brawl before he could reveal the location of the money.
In 1856, the State of California declared San Francisco to be in a state of insurrection. Judge Terry traveled from Sacramento to San Francisco to negotiate, where he was kidnapped by armed gunmen. He managed to stab one, Sterling A. Hopkins, a member of the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance, who was not tried.
On January 8, 1858, Chief Justice Terry administered the oath of office at the inauguration of Governor John B. Weller.
On June 25, 1859, the Democratic Party state convention nominated Warner Cope for Supreme Court over Terry. Although Terry was a close friend of Democratic U.S. Senator from California David Broderick, Terry accused Broderick, a Free Soil advocate, of having engineered Terry's loss for nomination for re-election in the 1859 state elections. Terry issued inflammatory comments at a state convention in Sacramento, which offended Broderick.
On September 13, 1859, Terry and Broderick, having agreed to a duel, met just outside San Franciscocity limits. Terry won the coin toss to select weapons, and chose pistols. Broderick's discharged early, leaving him open for Terry's shot. At first Terry thought that he had only wounded Broderick, but the senator died three days later. The day before the duel, Terry had resigned as Chief Justice on September 12, 1859.
In the 1880s, Terry became entangled in a mysterious divorce case. A young woman named Sarah Althea Hill claimed that she was the legal wife of silver millionaire William Sharon. Sharon denied that they had ever married, but Hill wanted a divorce and a share of Sharon's treasure. She lost her case and eventually wound up marrying Terry on January 7, 1886, in Stockton.
Downfall and death
On behalf of his wife, Terry appealed the ruling on his lawsuit against silver millionaire William Sharon.United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen J. Field, a former friend of Broderick's, heard the case in 1888 as the senior justice of the Federal circuit court in California. Field ruled against Mr. and Mrs. Terry in a final appeal, and jailed them both on contempt of court. The Terrys vowed vengeance.
David S. Terry is buried at Stockton Rural Cemetery in Stockton.
His wife, Sarah Terry, became insane, and spent the rest of her life at the Stockton State Hospital for the insane, where she died in February 1936. She is buried in the same gravesite as her husband. Terry's first wife, Cornelia Runnels, who died in December 1884, is also buried next to him.
^"San Joaquin Intelligence". Daily Alta California (3 (60)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 1 March 1852. p. 7. Retrieved 2017. David S. Terry, Esq., volunteered his services as assistant counsel.
^"Democratic State Convention". Los Angeles Star (8). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 2 July 1859. p. 2. Retrieved 2017. On the first ballot Mr. Cope was nominated having received 163 votes; Terry 68; Aldrich 36.
^"News of the Morning". Sacramento Daily Union (17 (2575)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 28 June 1859. p. 2. Retrieved 2017. The remark made by Mr. Broderick about Judge Terry probably originated in some exceedingly personal and bitter remarks made by the latter before the Lecompton State Convention, in reference to the former individual and the members of the party with which he is connected.
^"The Late Affair in San Francisco". Sacramento Daily Union (17 (2580)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 4 July 1859. p. 4. Retrieved 2017. At the breakfast table at the International Hotel, a few days since, Broderick commented on Judge Terry's course, and denounced it in severe terms, calling Terry anything but a gentleman.
^"The Sad Termination". Sacramento Daily Union (17 (2644)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 17 September 1859. p. 2. Retrieved 2017.
^"Reminicence of Senator Broderick". Mariposa Gazette. California Digital Newspaper Collection. 3 March 1871. p. 4. Retrieved 2017. David S. Terry, who was living at the last accounts in the State of Nevada.
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