Hudson v. Sherman
|08 October 2015
|U.S. District Court — Eastern District of California
|ERIC JOSEPH HUDSON, Petitioner, v. STU SHERMAN, Warden, California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, Corcoran, Respondent.
[Re: Motion at Docket No. 17]
Eric Joseph Hudson, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Hudson is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and incarcerated at California Substance and Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, Corcoran. Respondent has answered, and Hudson has replied.
On October 7, 2005, Hudson was charged with the first degree murder and residential burglary of his mother-in-law, Yvonne Powell. The information further alleged that Hudson personally used a dangerous or deadly weapon to murder Powell, and also charged Hudson's wife Amy as an accessory. On direct appeal of his conviction, the California Court of Appeal laid out the following facts underlying the charges against Hudson and his subsequent trial:
On the morning of July 14, 2005, [Hudson] killed his mother-in-law, Yvonne Powell, at her home in Woodland, California by hitting her over the head at least five
times with an expandable baton. The only issue at trial was [Hudson's] state of mind at the time of the killing.
During the two-week period leading up to the killing, [Hudson] and his wife, Amy Hudson, had been living out of their car and stowing their clothes and other property at a nearby storage facility. After the killing, [Hudson] drove to the storage facility, cleaned himself off and changed out of his bloody clothes. He put those clothes and the baton into several plastic bags and left them there.
Later that day, [Hudson] picked up his wife from work and drove to the home of his stepfather, where they stayed a couple of days. Thereafter, while Amy was at work, [Hudson] attempted to kill himself by taking some prescription pills he had stolen from his stepfather and, when that did not work, cutting his wrists. Amy took [Hudson] to the hospital and he was admitted to the intensive care unit. While [Hudson] was in the hospital, Amy retrieved the bloody clothes and baton from the storage unit and disposed of them in various locations.
On July 21, while [Hudson] was still in the hospital and the victim's body had still not been discovered, [Hudson] informed a therapist, Dr. Villamor, that he thinks he killed his mother-in-law. Dr. Villamor thereafter notified the police.
Officer Lewis LeFlore was dispatched to the victim's residence. When he arrived, he found the front door locked. He could not see inside, but could smell the odor of decaying flesh. He called Sergeant David Letamendi for assistance and called Officer Jameson Mills to make contact with [Hudson] at the hospital. LeFlore told Mills that someone may have been injured at the victim's residence and that [Hudson] may have been involved. Later, LeFlore and Letamendi kicked open the front door and found the victim lying on her face on the floor near the front door. There was a pool of blood under her head and blood spatter on the walls.
Officer Mills and another officer arrived at the hospital and found [Hudson] in bed and Amy sitting beside him. The other officer took Amy out of the room and Mills spoke with [Hudson]. [Hudson] told the officer he and Amy had been living out of their car after moving out of the victim's residence. [Hudson] then blurted out, "Is she okay?" Mills told [Hudson] other officers were on their way to check on her.
[Hudson] told Mills about several recent suicide attempts because of the stress of being homeless and the incident with the victim, which "just kind of put him over the edge." [Hudson] explained that he had gone to the victim's home to retrieve some items belonging to him and Amy and their discussion turned into an argument. At one point, the victim yelled, "you think you can take my daughter away from me," and mentioned some places where [Hudson] and Amy had lived during a four-year period when there had been no contact between them and the victim. [Hudson] concluded from this that the victim had either been following them or had had them followed.
[Hudson] told Mills the next thing he remembered was sitting in his car in the driveway of the victim's residence holding a baton with blood on it and seeing blood on his shorts and legs. [Hudson] explained that he walked up to the front door and saw the victim lying on the floor with blood under her head. He then reached in, turned the lock on the door from the inside, and closed the door. [Hudson] told Mills he knew he had done something bad and drove to a park to think before driving to the storage facility to
change clothes. [Hudson] also told Mills that, on his way to and from his stepfather's house later that day, he disposed of the clothes and baton.
At that point, Officer Mills stepped out of the room and conferred with other officers. He was given a tape recorder and told to go back in and re-interview [Hudson] on tape. Mills asked the nurses what medication [Hudson] was on and was told a mild tranquilizer that would not affect his comprehension and ability to communicate. He was also told Dr. Villamor had placed a mental health hold on [Hudson] prohibiting him from leaving the hospital. Mills reentered [Hudson]'s hospital room, read him his rights under Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436 [16 L.Ed.2d 694] (Miranda ), and re-interviewed him on tape. During this second interview, Mills informed [Hudson] the victim was dead.
The victim died from blunt force trauma. One blow had been to the front of her head and the others were to the back. On one section of the victim's head the skull had been fractured into many small fragments that were pushed in. Blood spatter evidence suggested most of the blows came while the victim was lying on the floor.
Gregory C. testified that he had shared a cell with [Hudson] around July 25 or July 26 and at one point [Hudson] broke down and was sobbing hysterically. [Hudson] told Gregory he was sorry for what he had done, that he had done it for his wife and that, at the time of the offense, he had gone out to his car to get something and had hit his mother-in-law over the head.
[Hudson's] stepfather, with whom [Hudson] and Amy stayed the night of the murder, testified that [Hudson] seemed normal at the time. However, [Hudson] had called him a few days later and said he thought he killed the victim. [Hudson] told his stepfather he could not remember how she died and that the first thing he remembered after the murder was riding down the street with a lot of blood on him.
[Hudson]'s father-in-law, the victim's ex-husband, testified that he had given Amy an expandable baton while she was in the military. Police eventually found a portion of the baton, as well as [Hudson]'s clothes, at the various locations where they had been discarded by Amy.
Amy testified for the defense. At the time of trial, she was serving a one-year sentence based on a no contest plea to being an accessory after the fact to [Hudson]'s crimes. Amy testified that she and [Hudson] lived on and off with the victim, both before and after they were married, but there were conflicts with the victim. They did not see the victim between May 2000 and January 2004, part of which time Amy was serving in the military. During their marriage, [Hudson] held various jobs and they lived in a number of places.
At the time of the murder, Amy was working at a Home Depot store and [Hudson] was out of work. Prior to July 4, 2005, they had moved out of the victim's home and were living out of their car. During this time, [Hudson]'s mother had become paralyzed due to some medical complications. At some point during this period, Amy confided in [Hudson] that Child Protective Services had been called out to her home on multiple occasions on allegations of sexual abuse by her mother and she wondered if there may be something there she did not remember.
On July 13, [Hudson] and Amy received a call from the victim's real estate agent about a home the victim was trying to sell. Later that day, [Hudson] drove to the victim's home to inform her of the call. [Hudson] arranged to return the next day to pick up some things they had left at the house, and Amy told him to ask the victim about Amy's baby book....
According to Amy, when [Hudson] picked her up from work around 10:00 a.m. on July 14, he looked pale, distracted and upset. [Hudson] told Amy he had gone over to the victim's house and killed her. He told Amy they had gotten into an argument and he did not remember anything until he was in the car in the parking lot with blood on him. He asked her what he should do and she advised him not to turn himself in. According to Amy, [Hudson] attempted to take his life several days later and she took him to the hospital. She then disposed of the items [Hudson] had left in the storage unit. Amy testified she had never seen [Hudson] be violent with anyone prior to this incident.
[Hudson] also testified. In addition to describing his travels with Amy and their negative experiences with the victim, [Hudson] explained that he had been sexually molested by his grandfather when he was a child. When [Hudson] was 11, his mother confided that she had been molested as a child. At the time she indicated the perpetrator was a stepbrother. However, she later told [Hudson] it had been his grandfather. According to [Hudson], Amy also confided in him that she had been sexually touched by
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