Hudson gets probation, fines related to son's death
By BRENDA BROWN
A Queen City man who pleaded guilty to two charges related to his adopted son's death was sentenced to 10 years probation and fines on Tuesday in Linden.
Fifth District Judge Ralph Burgess sentenced William David "Bill" Hudson, 51, to five years deferred adjudication probation and a $1,500 fine for each charge. Last month, Hudson was on trial for second-degree felony injury to a child when testimony was cut short and the trial ended in a plea agreement for a lesser charge, injury to a child by reckless omission involving 13-year-old Samuel Hudson, and tampering with evidence.
Injury to a child by reckless omission is a state jail felony; tampering with physical evidence is a third degree state prison felony.
Hudson's wife Cynthia was found guilty of capital murder of the boy by a Harrison County jury in December 2010. Samuel died on Dec. 3, 2008, in the family's home in Queen City. Her conviction has been overturned by a higher court and she will receive a new trial at a date and place not yet set.
Bill Hudson was accused of failing to ensure the boy was fed, as it related to the boy's death by blunt force trauma and starvation. Hudson was not charged with any physical assault to the child, who, according to testimony in his wife Cynthia Hudson's trial in Marshall in December 2010, died of internal injuries after the teen was beaten with a mop handle, a broom handle, a garden rake, a computer cord and a baseball bat on the day he died. The medical examiner in her trial testified Samuel also suffered other beatings prior to the day he died.
Cass County District Attorney Clint Allen said Bill Hudson was also sentenced to standard conditions of probation including abstaining from alcohol consumption and submitting to chemical testing, 500 hours community service, a DNA sample on file with the state, and no contact with the other children who lived in his home.
If Hudson successful completes the terms of his adjudicated probation, he will not have a felony conviction on his criminal record. As part of the plea agreement, Judge Burgess dismissed four charges of injury to a child involving Samuel's siblings.
"This case did not turn out like I had hoped," Allen said in a written statement. "We had some unanticipated testimony from the medical examiner at trial which adversely affected our case (we were trying the Injury to a Child case pertaining to Samuel), so we had to make some decisions on the fly to try and salvage it.
"We took several factors into consideration in making the plea offer that we made. We also considered the hardship and uncertainty that has already been imposed on the other kids for a number of years now. I'm certainly not happy about the ultimate disposition of this case, but it's what I got and what I have to live with."
Cynthia Hudson's capital murder conviction was overturned by the 6th Court of Appeals and though she remains incarcerated in a Texas prison, she has been granted the opportunity to be released on bond, set at $500,000. Judge Burgess denied bond at her first hearing, saying the bondsman did not prove adequate assets at that time.
A Harrison County jury found Cynthia Hudson guilty of murdering Samuel in conjunction with kidnapping as he was forced to stay in his room and his feet and hands were bound by zip ties while she struck him with various objects. Those objects were never found, and at her trial Samuel's older biological brother testified Cynthia ordered he and Bill Hudson to remove those items from the home; to date, they have never been found.
Bill Hudson was not on trial in August for tampering with evidence, and Allen had said that would be a separate trial, but when he pleaded to the injury to a child charge, he also pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence.
The medical examiner, Dr. Chester Gwin from the Southwestern Institute Of Forensic Sciences Of Dallas, testified at both Hudson trials.
Bill Hudson's attorney, Al Smith of Texarkana, questioned Dr. Gwin regarding the "starvation process" as it pertains to children and adults, and Gwin stated starvation was not the direct cause of Samuel's death and the level of starvation had not reached the level of "serious bodily injury" on the day he died, as stated in the State's indictment.
Dr. Gwin said the body goes through various changes during starvation and that it is not an overnight occurrence. He said a body can survive 40 days without food, "depending on the starting point" and condition of the person.
Smith honed in on Samuel's condition on the date of his death, noting at one point that Samuel was "a short thin kid for his age." Samuel was 4 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 88 pounds when he died, Dr. Gwin said.
In the 911 call for help on the day Samuel died, Bill Hudson stated Samuel committed suicide by choking himself in his bedroom. Dr. Gwin testified in Cynthia Hudson's trial that it is impossible for anyone to choke themselves to death because they would pass out before they would die. He also stated Samuel's left arm was broken and he could not have choked himself.
Instead of the felony prison charge, Smith said Hudson agreed to the lesser state jail charge of injury to a child, which carries a penalty of not less than 180 days and not more than two years in state jail. His guilty plea to tampering with physical evidence could have resulted in a prison sentence of not less than two years or more than 10 years, and a fine of up to $10,000. The original trial charge of injury to a child is a second degree felony and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in state prison.
After the trial, Hudson's attorney said the guilty plea to tampering with physical evidence relates to the fact that "there were items moved at the crime scene that should not have been moved."