Cynthia Hudson appeals murder conviction in the death of her son
By BRENDA BROWN
A lawyer for a Queen City woman sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her adopted son is appealing her case in court next month.
Cass County District Attorney Clint Allen said Cynthia Hudson's appeal is scheduled for oral arguments beginning 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, in the commissioners courtroom inside the historic Harrison County Courthouse in Marshall.
Hudson, 49, was sentenced to life without parole in the beating death of Samuel Hudson, who was 13 at the time of his death on Dec. 3, 2008. Texarkana attorney Troy A. Hornsby is handling Hudson's appeal before the 6th District Court of Appeals.
Hudson is appealing her capital murder conviction on several points, including that the Cass County DA's Office did not prove she intentionally caused Samuel Hudson's death; that the presiding judge did not give the option to convict Hudson of a lesser charge of manslaughter; and that the judge did not originally properly identify her punishment as life without parole for capital murder.
Hudson is also appealing the state's case regarding the kidnapping of her son at time of his death.
Hornsby's appeal states a new trial is warranted, but Allen maintains his office proved the case, which was tried before 5th District Judge Ralph K. Burgess in Marshall before a Harrison County jury in December 2010.
At that trial, Samuel's older brother testified his adopted mother beat the boy with a mop handle, a broom handle, a rake, a computer cord and a baseball bat while his hands and feet were bound with plastic zip ties. The brother and a younger sister also testified Samuel was locked in his room for up to two weeks before his death and he was without food and water for much of the time.
The Dallas medical examiner who testified in the case ruled Samuels's death was caused by internal hemorrhaging from excessive beatings over a two-week period, and starvation.
Allen said the evidence, including the autopsy and photographs of the teenager and testimony by his siblings, proved Hudson's intent to kill the boy.
Hudson's appeal states Judge Burgess should have given the jury an option besides capital murder, and that a manslaughter charge should have been included. Because the state contended the boy was kidnapped in his own room, bound by plastic zip ties, the DA charged Hudson with capital murder, which is murder committed in tandem with another crime.
Hudson is also appealing the judgment signed by Judge Burgess 40 days after her trial, wherein the original judgment stated her sentence was life; the amended judgment stated her sentence was life without parole. The appeal states the court didn't have the authority to correct the judgment, though Allen said there are only two punishments for capital murder: life without parole or lethal injection. The DA dropped the death penalty option before the trial began.
The DA says because Samuel was locked in his room and restrained with zip ties, he had been kidnapped at the time of his death, thus warranting the capital murder charge.
Cynthia Hudson and her husband, William "Bill" Hudson, testified at trial that Samuel's older brother, who was his natural sibling, was the murderer and that Samuel's death occurred while Cynthia Hudson was walking her other children on their property and Bill Hudson was at work. The DA, with evidence of extensive traumas and starvation over an extended period of time, argued that Cynthia Hudson systematically beat and starved the boy over a period of about two weeks prior to his death.
Bill Hudson has also been charged with multiple counts of child abuse and Allen said his trial is now scheduled for the week of March 6. His attorney petitioned for a change of venue due to pretrial publicity, and the case will be tried at the Bowie County Courthouse at New Boston.
Charges against Hudson include first-degree injury to a child by omission for allegedly failing to feed Samuel Hudson; three counts of injury to a child and a single count of injury to a child by omission in the alleged abuse of other adopted children. Punishments for the various charges range from five to 99 years in prison.