Born at Buffalo, New York, January 1, 1883, he earned the Medal of Honor for service in World War I, where he earned the nickname “Wild Bill.”
He is the ONLY American to have received our nation's FOUR highest awards, The Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal and the National Security Medal.
During World War II, he founded, and then led, the OSS (Office of Strategic Services – the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Following the war, he served as an Assistant to Robert Jackson, Chief American Prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. He also served as United States Ambassador to Thailand in 1953.
He died at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. on February 8, 1959 and was buried among other family members in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.
Faithful to the end, Ruth was at his bedside in the Pershing Suite when Donovan was “born into eternity” — in the phrase of the priest — at 1:55 PM on Sunday, February 8, 1959. His brother, Vincent, in the robes of a Dominican, gave Donovan the last rites. When he heard the news, President Eisenhower remarked: “What a man! We have lost the last hero.”
Dressed in his General's uniform, Donovan was buried three days later beside Patricia in Arlington National Cemetery amid a thunder of guns, trumpet calls and hymns. Many of those at the graveside would remember thinking: “We shall not see his like again.”
DONOVAN, WILLIAM JOSEPH
Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, 165th Infantry, 42d Division. Place and date: Near Landres-et-St. Georges, France, 14-15 October 1918. Entered service at: Buffalo, New York. Born: 1 January 1883, Buffalo, New York. G.O., No.: 56, W.D., 1922.
Lieutenant Colonel Donovan personally led the assaulting wave in an attack upon a very strongly organized position, and when our troops were suffering heavy casualties he encouraged all near him by his example, moving among his men in exposed positions, reorganizing decimated platoons, and accompanying them forward in attacks. When he was wounded in the leg by machine-gun bullets, he refused to be evacuated and continued with his unit until it withdrew to a less exposed position.
NOTE: The following family members are buried with him:
Mary G. Donovan, the first wife of David R. Donovan (the son of the General). April 14, 1917-July 25, 1953. Section 2 Grave 4874-A-Left Half.
For years, Donovan's daughter-in-law, Mary, had been accepted as a daughter, almost as a substitute for Patricia. Frequently she had acted as Donovan's official hostess, accompanying him on journeys throughout the world. But when Sheliah died from the poison in the silver polish, Mary seemed to come unhinged. She had great difficulty in sleeping and a doctor prescribed sedatives, which she used carelessly.
On July 25, 1955, Ruth went to Mary's bedroom at Nonquitt and found her dead. Police and pathologists' inquiries showed that the cause of death was an excessive dose of barbiturates. It was believed that before retiring, she had taken liquor and then pills, as usual in the hope that she would sleep more soundly. On several occasions in the middle of the night she must have awakened and in her befuddled state taken more pills in the belief that she had forgotten to take them earlier. As a result, she had taken a lethal dose and had died in her sleep.
Patricia Hazard Donovan, the daughter of William Joseph Donovan. Born: August 13, 1917. She died when her car overturned near Fredericksburg, Virginia, April 8, 1940. She was buried May 16, 1940 in Section 2, Grave 4874-A-Right Half.
VIRGINIA CRASH FATAL TOPATRICIA DONOVAN
Daughterof the Colonel Dies After Auto Skids Into Tree
FREDERICKBURG, Virginia – April 8, 1940 – Miss Patricia Donovan, 23 years old, daughter of Colonel William J. Donovan of Buffalo, New York, former UnitedStates Assistant Attorney General, died in Mary Washington Hospital at 6 o'clock this evening of injuries suffered in an automobile accident about five hours earlier.
She was found lying unconscious on U. S. Route 1, thirty-fivemiles south of Fredericksburg, by a motorist a few minutes after her automobile skidded from the wet highway and crashed into a tree.
Miss Donovan, brought to the hospital here by ambulance, died without regaining consciousness. She was traveling along in the direction of Washington.
Born in Buffalo, Miss Patricia Donovan was baptized by the Rev. Francis P. Duffy, Chaplain of the 165th Infantry, at Camp Mills just before her father sailed for France witht he old “Fighting 69th” and she was known as the daughter of the regiment.
While Colonel Donovan was overseas the girl and her mother, the former Ruth Rumsey, lived at the Buffalo home of her grandmother, Mrs. Rexter P. Rumsey Sr.
Miss Donovan prepared at the Potomac School, Washington, and at Rosemary Hall, Greenwich, Connecticut, for Wellesley College, which she attended for two years. She was completing her work for a degree in June at George Washington University.
Three years ago, with her motherand brother, David, she made a South Seas cruise on the schooner the Yankee. Her mother is now aboard the Yankee on another cruise and it was hoped to reach her by radio somewhere west of Pitcairn Island. David Donovan, going from his farm at Berryville, Virginia, was with his sister when she died.
Notified of the accident yesterday afternoon, Colonel Donovan left his office at 2 Wall Street for Washington, but arrived after his daughter's death. Hecommanded the 165th Infantry in theWorld War and was Republican candidate for Governor in 1922. His New York City home is at 1 Beekman Place.
April 10, 1940 – A requiem mass will be celebrated at 10:30 A.M. today for Miss Patricia Donovan at St. Matthew's Roman CatholicChurch, Washngton, D.C. Burial will be in ArlingtonNational Cemetery.
Miss Donovan, daughter of Colonel William J. Donovan of New York and Buffalo, lawyer and World War commander of the 165th Regiment, and Mrs. Donovan, died on Monday at Fredericksburg, Virginia, after injuries received earlier that day in a motor accident thirty-five miles south of Fredericksburg. Her age was 23.
Patricia Hazard Donovan in the summer of 1936, at the age of 18, and (right) in 1938 at the age of nineteen.
David Rumsey Donovan
David R. Donovan, 84, of Chapel Hill Farm, Berryville, died Wednesday, September 8, 1999, at his home.
David Donovan was the son of the General.
David R. Donovan, Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy, July 7, 1915 September 8, 1999. Section , Grave 4874A-RH (Buried 6 October 1999).
David Rumsey Donovan (Harvard '38), of Berryville, Virginia, died September 8, 1999. A World War II naval hero, he commanded an advanced amphibious group in the invasion at Oran, helped in planning of the invasion of Sicily, and served on the Ancon, Admiral Hall's flagship, during the landing on Omaha Beach. En route home, he asked for and was given command of a salvage tug and pulled in four crippled warships, ending his service with four campaign medals. After resettling in Virginia as a cattle farmer, he sat on the Clarke County board of supervisors and served as county zoning administrator for nearly 20 years. He leaves his wife, Tippaparin, three daughters, Patricia Gilbert, Deirdre, and Mary Hudson, a son, David, and a stepdaughter, Diane Peavey.
Rosamond E. Donovan, the second wife of David R. Donovan (the son of the General). June 2, 1915-July 14, 1988. Section 2, Grave 4874-A-Right Half.
Ruth R. Donovan, the wife of William Joseph Donovan. May 4, 1891-December 12, 1977. Section 2, Grave 4874-Left Half.
Sheliah Donovan, the daughter of David R. Donovan and granddaughter of William Joseph Donovan.
During the afternoon of December 31, 1951, the vehicles came and went from the long, narrow drive that led from the main road to the main house — the handsome 18th century Federal-style gentleman's residence that Ruth had made from a ruin — at Chapel Hill Farm. Ruth and Mary were preparing a dinner party for sixty people, who were to see the New Year in and celebrate the General's 69th birthday.
As part of the preparations for those celebrations, one of the servants sent a cup of silver polish to Ruth's house, to enable her to polish some silverware. The cup was placed in a bathroom. There it was found by the General's youngest grandchild, Sheliah. Sheliah drank the polish without anyone noticing until she walked into the kitchen, where Ruth and Mary were working. She asked for some water, and Ruth gave it to her. Within a moment or two Sheliah had collapsed on the kitchen floor.
Soon Sheliah stopped breathing, and Ruth and Mary gave her artificial respiration until a doctor arrived. He sent Sheliah to the hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival, producing a scene of terrible sadness in the family similar to that experienced in 1939 when Patricia was killed.
Section 2, Grave 4874-A-Left Half.
William James Donovan, SP-4, United States Army. Served in Vietnam. The grandson of William Joseph Donovan. According to Arlington National Cemetery staff: Born December 6, 1946 and died May 31, 1981 at Tacoma, Washington. The son of David Donovan. Buried August 13, 1981, Section 2, Grave 4874-A-Left Half.
More Tragedy Strikes The Donovan Family
Hudson Murder Trial Underway in Berryville
Prosecution Claims Defendant Killed Wife of 3 Months;
Defense Asserts She Took Her Own Life
Did Mary “Mimi” Donovan Hudson die on September 20, 1999, as a result of murder or suicide?
That was the central question posed by prosecution and defense attorneys Wednesday in Clarke County Circuit Court during their opening statements in the murder trial of the 50-year-old Berryville woman’s husband of about three months.
Louis Scott Hudson, 44, of Augusta, West Virginia, is accused of murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
After a lengthy jury selection process, opening statements began in the case shortly before 4 p.m. in front of a jury of eight women and four men.
Clarke County Commonwealth's Attorney Suzanne M. Perka used a chalkboard to outline the commonwealth's case against Hudson.
Perka said that although Mary Donovan Hudson was to attend her father's memorial service on September 20 (the woman’s father, David R. Donovan, died September 8 after a long battle with cancer), she started the day in good spirits. Mary Donovan Hudson went fox hunting in the morning, and later attended the memorial service at Grace Episcopal Church in Berryville wearing a new dress.
Following the service, Mary Donovan Hudson left a gathering at her father's home at around 2:30 p.m. “That would be the last time her family would see her alive,” Perka said.
Perka said sometime during the evening of September 20, Louis Scott Hudson placed the muzzle of a .22-caliber Magnum revolver in his wife's left ear and pulled the trigger, killing the woman he had lived with for around seven years.
According to Perka’s timeline, these are the events that occurred on the night of Mary Donovan Hudson’s death:
— At 6:40 p.m., Mary Donovan Hudson’s brother, David Donovan, calls his sister's home and no one answers the phone.
— At 7:45 p.m., Mary Donovan Hudson calls a friend. The phone call ends when Louis Scott Hudson grabs the phone.
— Sometime after the call, Louis Scott Hudson calls his parents and states, “Mimi blew her head off.” Louis Scott Hudson’s parents, Louis and Ann Hudson, arrive with some friends at the couple's home off Va. 7, near the Triple J convenience store, and find Mary Donovan Hudson’s body. Louis Scott Hudson is not around, and neither is a usable phone. His father returns to his Russell Road home and calls 911 at 7:52 p.m.
— At 7:57 p.m., officials with the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office arrive at the couple’s home.
— At 9:17 p.m., Louis Scott Hudson is found at his parents’ home, intoxicated. Police perform a gunshot residue test and arrest him on a drunk in public charge. Louis Scott Hudson tells police his wife was playing with a .22-caliber gun, and when he went into a nearby bathroom, he heard the gun discharge. He then told police he never touched his wife’s body and didn’t know why he had not called 911.
Perka said the scene of the crime, especially the placement of the gun in Mary Donovan Hudson’s right hand, made Clarke County investigators suspicious.
She also said upcoming testimony from forensic, firearms, and DNA experts will support her assertion that Mary Donovan Hudson’s death was the result of murder, and that Louis Scott Hudson attempted to make the death look like a suicide.
Hudson co-counsel Timothy S. Coyne of Winchester stated the defense case to the jury.
“Simple and tragic” is how Coyne characterized the case — both because Mary Donovan Hudson committed suicide and because his client loved a woman who took her own life.
Coyne said the commonwealth has no eyewitnesses to the crime and no confession of guilt from Louis Scott Hudson, and that the state’s scientific evidence will eventually lead back to a conclusion of suicide.
The issue of Mary Donovan Hudson’s limited mental abilities and her financial situation were also addressed by the attorneys. Perka and Coyne said that Mary Donovan Hudson was provided for by a trust set up by her father, which essentially held title to everything she owned.
Coyne said Mary Donovan Hudson had some “dark sides” to her life and, prior to her death, she had attempted suicide. He also said she suffered from physical pain and was depressed about her father’s death and her treatment by some family members.
Mary Donovan Hudson also abused prescription medications and alcohol, Coyne said. At the time of her death, a narcotic called propoxyphene (Darvoset) was found in her system, Coyne said, and she had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit.
Coyne told the jury that Hudson would not benefit financially from his wife’s death because everything owned by her trust — including their home — reverted to her family, not her husband, upon her death.
Most of the evidence in the case is expected to be heard today, and the trial is scheduled to end Friday.
Gunshot Residue, DNA Tests Highlight Hudson Trial
Gunshot residue test evidence proved a central issue in the second day of the trial of a former Berryville man charged with the murder of his wife of three months.
Clarke County Commonwealth’s Attorney Suzanne M. Perka contends Louis Scott Hudson, 44, of Augusta, W.Va., killed his wife on the evening of Sept. 20, 1999, with a .22-caliber Magnum revolver.
In opening statements Wednesday, Hudson defense co-counsel Timothy S. Coyne of Winchester termed the death of Mary “Mimi” Donovan Hudson, 50, a suicide.
On Thursday, Louis Scott Hudson was in Clarke County Circuit Court with Coyne and co-counsel David Savasten of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., as Perka introduced evidence from Mary Donovan Hudson’s friends and family, Clarke County Sheriff’s Office deputies, and Virginia Division of Forensic Science experts.
Under questioning from Coyne, Eugene Ray Harrison of the Division of Forensic Science admitted the gunshot residue profiles of the casings fired from the .22-caliber gun were inconsistent with the residue found on the hands of Louis Scott Hudson.
Harrison testified that only two elements from a portion of the residue, called primer residue, appeared in the casings and on the right hand of Mary Donovan Hudson.
Louis Scott Hudson’s hands revealed the presence of three elements, Harrison said. He added that gunshot residue can be transferred to a person by handling a dirty gun.
The final witness called Thursday, Carol Palmer of the state Division of Forensic Science, testified in response to Coyne’s questioning that although she found blood identified as Mary Donovan Hudson’s on the shirt her husband wore the night of her death, she could not pinpoint the age of a stain on the left sleeve of the garment.
Palmer also said that material from fingernail clippings from Mary Donovan Hudson produced no DNA differing from that of Mary Donovan Hudson.
Earlier in the proceedings, the first law enforcement officials on the scene, Clarke County Sheriff’s Office deputies Tom Jones, Mike McWilliams, and Scott Small, offered similar testimony about what they found at the scene when they arrived separately at the Hudson’s home on Va. 7, near the Triple J convenience store, just before 8 p.m. Sept. 20.
All three said Louis Scott Hudson was not present, but his mother, Ann, who testified she received a call from her son in which he said his wife had committed suicide, was on the scene with a young couple.
The deputies said shattered glass lay on the floor of the kitchen and adjoining deck, while a shovel sat on the kitchen floor.
Additionally, Jones and McWilliams said as Mary Donovan Hudson lay dead on a living room sofa with a .22-caliber Magnum single action revolver in her right hand, a bloody hand print was visible on a cushion near her head.
According to testimony from Virginia Division of Forensic Science Assistant Chief Medical Examiner Carolyn Revercomb, who performed the autopsy on Mary Donovan Hudson, the woman’s death was caused by a bullet that entered her left ear.
The bullet moved from right to left, upward and slightly toward the back of Mary Donovan Hudson’s head, Revercomb said. The bullet was later recovered from her brain.
Revercomb also testified that the gun used would have been pressed close to Mary Donovan Hudson’s ear, and that such a wound would most likely cause profuse bleeding, almost immediate unconsciousness, and death within minutes.
McWilliams testified that only a trace of blood — small amounts on the thumb and middle finger — was present on Mary Donovan Hudson’s hands.
Clarke County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jim Coumes and R.K. Shirley of Enders and Shirley Funeral Home in Berryville testified that when Mary Donovan Hudson’s body was moved from the couch to be taken to the funeral home, a two-shot derringer — a short-barreled pistol — was discovered on a cushion beneath the body.
Coumes also said ammunition of various types, including .22-caliber cartridges, was present in other areas of the home.
Louis Scott Hudson was taken into police custody at his father’s Russell Road home on a drunk in public charge Sept. 20, after his father called police at 9:17 p.m. to inform them his son had reappeared. Jones said a search of Louis Scott Hudson at the Regional Jail resulted in the seizure of a .22-caliber bullet from the man’s jacket.
No blood, weapons, or alcohol were discovered in a Sept. 21 search of Louis Scott Hudson’s car, Coumes said.
The jury trial, presided over by Clarke County Circuit Court John R. Prosser, is scheduled to conclude today.
Defense Motions Heard In Clarke Murder Case
An Augusta, W.Va., man accused of killing his wife of three months in September 1999 was back in Clarke County Circuit Court Wednesday.
The defense team for Louis Scott Hudson, 44, argued a number of motions in the case before Circuit Court Judge John R. Prosser.
According to Clarke County Commonwealth’s Attorney Suzanne M. Perka, the death of Mary “Mimi” Donovan Hudson, 50, was caused by a gunshot wound to the head with a .22-caliber Magnum single-action revolver.
Winchester attorney Timothy S. Coyne, who is serving as co-counsel for Hudson along with David H. Savasten of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., asked Prosser to grant a motion removing a portion of a state medical examiner’s report dealing with what type of death Hudson’s wife suffered (for example, accident or illness.)
Perka did not object to the motion, which was subsequently granted by Prosser.
Prosser also ruled in favor of two requests included in a defense motion for the disclosure of exculpatory evidence from the prosecution.
Prosser said that much of the material requested in the motion is part of routine evidence disclosure, but that the defense team could have access to information about the criminal histories of any of the prosecution’s witnesses and the criminal history of the victim.
Prosser also ruled in response to a motion from the prosecution that Perka’s office may copy, inspect, or view any scientific reports that the defense intends to use in the case.
As the hearing concluded, Perka mentioned a concern about the case, stating that she understood Savasten had been Mary Donovan Hudson’s lawyer regarding trust documents prior to her marriage to Louis Hudson.
Perka also said the commonwealth has contemplated issuing a subpoena for Savasten to testify in the case.
Coyne admitted that Savasten did consult with Donovan in early 1999.
Prosser made no decision on Savasten and his earlier contact with Donovan because neither side was prepared to argue the issue on Wednesday. Prosser did comment that people “can’t be witnesses and lawyers at the same time.”
Hudson will appear again Tuesday in Clarke County Circuit Court in relation to another defense motion — one which seeks a delay of his Jan. 10, 2001, trial.
Hudson Verdict: Guilty
A jury of eight women and four men found a former Berryville man guilty of killing his wife of three months.
The jury deliberated for more than 31/2 hours Friday night before finding Louis Scott Hudson, 44, of Augusta, W.Va., guilty of second-degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a murder.
Following a full day of testimony and jury deliberation, Hudson displayed little emotion in the hushed courtroom when Clarke County Circuit Court Judge John R. Prosser read the verdict shortly after 11 p.m.
The sentencing phase of the trial will begin at 9 a.m. today in Clarke County Circuit Court. Hudson faces up to 40 years in prison.
Hudson is accused of using a .22-caliber Magnum revolver to commit the murder of Mary “Mimi” Donovan Hudson, 50, on the evening of Sept. 20, 1999.
“On that day and time, she did not deserve to die,” Clarke County Commonwealth’s Attorney Suzanne M. Perka said in her closing argument Friday.
Perka told the jury that the case against Louis Scott Hudson was circumstantial, but the circumstances equaled those of murder.
Timothy S. Coyne of Winchester, who represented Louis Scott Hudson with David Savasten of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., handled the closing argument for the defense. Coyne said the evidence presented by the prosecution led to a conclusion of suicide as the cause of Mary Donovan Hudson’s death.
According to Perka’s argument, early on Sept. 20, Mary Donovan Hudson was in good spirits. Around 7:45 p.m., Mary Donovan Hudson called a friend, but Louis Scott Hudson got on the phone and swore at the man, causing the friend to hang up, Perka said.
By 7:52 p.m., Louis Scott Hudson’s father, Louis M. Hudson, had called 911 with a report of Mary Donovan Hudson’s death.
During that seven-minute period, Perka said Louis Scott Hudson grabbed his wife’s head and fired a bullet from a .22-caliber Magnum revolver into her left ear. She said Louis Scott Hudson got blood on his hands and steadied himself on the couch on which his wife sat, leaving a bloody hand print on a back cushion.
Bloody “transfer stains,” like the one on the couch, were also on Mary Donovan Hudson’s jeans and on a telephone book underneath the woman’s right hand — the hand that held the gun in what Perka called a “ridiculous position.”
Marjorie Harris of the state Division of Forensic Science testified Friday that the blood from the hand print on the couch, jeans, and telephone book did not flow directly from Mary Donovan Hudson’s head wound.
Perka argued the stains appeared because Louis Scott Hudson positioned his wife’s body so it would appear she committed suicide.
After handling his wife’s body, Perka said Louis Scott Hudson washed his hands with an outdoor garden hose and left the scene. At some point, Louis Scott Hudson called his mother, Ann Hudson, and told her, “Mimi blew her head off.”
By the time Ann Hudson and her husband arrived at the scene, their son could not be found, according to testimony from Louis Scott Hudson’s parents.
Louis Scott Hudson appeared at his parents’ home after 9 p.m. in a drunken state, and his father called 911 to notify police of his son’s whereabouts. The call came into the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center at 9:17 p.m.
When Louis Scott Hudson exited his car at his parents’ home, he drank an entire beer, according to testimony Friday from his brother, Steve Hudson.
Shortly thereafter, Louis M. Hudson removed a rifle from his son’s car before police arrived, the father testified.
Under questioning by Clarke County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Anthony Roper on Sept. 21 and by Virginia State Police Investigator Stan Gregg in November 1999, Louis Scott Hudson said he didn’t know why he didn’t call 911 upon his wife’s death.
According to testimony from both investigators, Louis Scott Hudson said he heard the gunshot that resulted in Mary Donovan Hudson’s death as he stood in a nearby bathroom. He also said he didn’t recall where he went during his disappearance, the investigators said.
Gregg testified Louis Scott Hudson told him that he couldn’t recall whether he touched his wife’s body, although Roper testified the defendant told him in September that he did not touch his wife’s body.
Coyne stated in his closing argument that Mary Donovan Hudson’s body could have moved on its own in the throes of death. Coyne said that although Louis Scott Hudson did not recall touching his wife’s body, his level of intoxication could have led to his memory problems.
The presence of a small amount of Mary Donovan Hudson’s blood on Louis Scott Hudson’s shirt that night was not compelling enough for a finding of guilt, Coyne said.
According to Coyne, evidence presented Thursday that the gunshot residue on Louis Scott Hudson’s hands did not match up with residue left either on .22-caliber casings from the gun or on Mary Donovan Hudson’s hands were enough to exonerate his client.
Perka said the presence of a rifle found in Louis Scott Hudson’s car could explain the different gunshot residue.
A number of defense witnesses also testified Friday about Mary Donovan Hudson’s state of mind in the weeks leading up to her death. They said she was upset about the lack of provisions for her in her father’s will. However, a number of prosecution witnesses testified the woman was in high spirits earlier in the day.
Her father, David Rumsey Donovan, died in September 1999. A memorial service was held on Sept. 20, the day his daughter was killed.
Perka said it had been established that Mary Donovan Hudson — a woman with the mental age of 12, according to Friday’s testimony from Dr. Beverly Chambers, one of her doctors — abused alcohol and painkillers, but she would not shoot herself because she hated pain.
Coyne stated that the events of Sept. 20 were a “tragedy,” not a crime. Perka said it was a crime, but “not the perfect crime.”
MARCH 21, 2001
Hudson to Spend 15 Years in Prison
The Augusta, W.Va., man convicted in January of murdering his wife at their home near Berryvilleon Sept. 20, 1999, will spend 15 years in prison.
Clarke County Circuit Court Judge John R. Prosser sentenced Louis Scott Hudson, 45, to 17 years for the second-degree murder conviction of his wife, Mary “Mimi” Donovan Hudson.
Additionally, Prosser sentenced Hudson to three years for his conviction on the charge of use of a firearm (in the commission of the murder).
Five years of the 20 year sentence were suspended by Prosser.
When Hudson is released from jail, he faces four years of supervised probation.
Before issuing a sentence, Prosser heard arguments from Clarke County Commonwealth’s Attorney Suzanne Perka and Hudson’s defense attorney Timothy Coyne.
Coyne made a motion to set aside the jury’s verdict and convict Hudson of voluntary manslaughter based on the fact that the Commonwealth’s evidence, he said, was not sufficient to support the second-degree murder conviction.
“There simply wasn’t sufficient time for any malice to be formed,” Coyne said, referring to the approximate seven-minute period during which Hudson would have murdered his wife.
Perka rebutted, “Shooting somebody in the head,” she paused, “is mean . . . That is malice.”
Throughout Hudson’s three-day trial, the defense maintained that Mary Donovan Hudson’s death, which was caused by a gunshot wound to the head, was a suicide.
Hudson offered a brief statement before he was sentenced. “I lost my wife, my home, and my freedom for a crime I am not guilty of.”
PRESENT: Hassell, C.J., Lacy, Keenan, Koontz, Kinser, and Lemons, JJ., and Compton, S.J.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
v. Record No. 021891 JUSTICE DONALD W. LEMONS
April 17, 2003
LOUIS SCOTT HUDSON
FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA
A jury found Louis Scott Hudson (“Hudson”) guilty of the second-degree murder of his wife, Mary Donovan Hudson, known as “Mimi,” and use of a firearm in the commission of the murder. In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment and dismissed the indictments. Hudson v. Commonwealth, No. 0917-01-4, 2002 Va. App. LEXIS 389 (Va. Ct. App. July 16, 2002). For the reasons stated, we will reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and reinstate the trial court’s judgment.
I. Facts and Proceedings Below
Hudson was indicted for first-degree murder of his wife and for using a firearm in the commission of murder. At trial, the court denied Hudson’s motion to strike the evidence but permitted the case to proceed on charges of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of murder. The jury returned verdicts of guilty to both charges submitted. The trial court imposed the sentence set by the jury of seventeen years for murder and three years for use of a firearm and suspended five years of the sentence for murder.
Hudson and Mimi had been living together for about six to eight years prior to marrying in July 1999, three months before her death. There was no evidence of abuse between the two. In fact, evidence was presented that they had a good relationship.
Mimi had been declared incompetent in 1972 and was estimated to have the mental age of a twelve-year old. Mimi took prescription medicine and pain killers for chronic back pain, and at the time of her death, she had an infection in her right elbow. The infection in her elbow caused Mimi a “great deal of pain,” and she was having “difficulty bending it and lifting, or holding anything.” Just a few weeks prior to her death, Mimi had “overdosed” on Darvocet, a mild prescription pain-killer. Mimi’s physician testified that she did not understand how to properly take the medicine, would not wait for it to work, and took excessive amounts. Evidence was presented that Darvocet can intensify the effects of alcohol.
Neither Mimi nor Hudson worked during the time they lived together. Mimi’s allowance from her family trust fund supported the couple financially. Upon her death, none of the proceeds of the trust benefited Hudson.
Mimi loved horses and spent much of her time riding, and on the morning of September 20, 1999, she went on a fox hunt. After the hunt, she attended her father’s memorial service. Her father had been sick for about 18 months, battling Parkinson’s disease and colon cancer and had died several days previously. Evidence was presented that Mimi was unhappy with the property distribution from her father’s estate; however, there was evidence that Mimi was in good spirits after the fox hunt, had bought a new dress for the memorial service, and was excited about the family heirloom ring she had received from her father’s estate.
During the luncheon following the memorial service, Mimi and Hudson consumed alcohol. When they returned home, they continued to drink. At the time of Mimi’s death, her blood alcohol content was between .22 and .24, and Darvocet was present in her system.
David G. Donovan, the victim’s twin brother, testified that Mimi did not like guns and did not like to handle them, but Hudson kept guns in the house. Evidence, however, was presented that on one occasion prior to the date of her death Mimi had fired a .22 revolver. Neighbors testified that on the night of September 20, between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., they heard two or three high-powered rifle shots from the direction of Hudson’s residence.
Wesley A. Thompson (“Thompson”), a friend of Mimi’s, testified that about 7:45 p.m. on the night of September 20, Mimi called him to talk about her father’s death. During the call, Hudson interrupted the conversation with obscenities and asked Thompson why he was talking to Mimi. Thompson then hung up the telephone.
Anne H. Hudson, Hudson’s mother, testified that Hudson called her at approximately 7:30 p.m. and said that Mimi had shot and killed herself. Obviously, the timing of the telephone calls is in dispute because Mimi could not have been dead at 7:30 and alive and speaking with Thompson on the telephone at 7:45. Hudson’s parents estimated that they arrived at Hudson and Mimi’s house about five minutes after Hudson’s call and saw Mimi’s body, but that Hudson was not there. Hudson’s father then returned to his house and called the police at 7:52 p.m.
The police arrived at Hudson and Mimi’s house at 7:57 p.m. They observed Mimi’s body on the living room couch, with a .22 caliber revolver lying across her right palm in a manner described by an officer as looking “like it was backwards.” There were bloody handprints on the back cushion of the couch, on Mimi’s jeans, and on her forearm. The officers did not see any blood on Mimi’s hands. Outside of the house, the garden hose was turned on “full blast” despite the fact that it was raining heavily that night.
Around 9:00 p.m. that night, Hudson’s brother, Steven Hudson (“Steven”), saw Hudson sitting in his car in their parents’ driveway. Steven took Hudson inside to “sober up,” while Hudson’s father called the police. Hudson’s father saw no blood on Hudson when he came in the house. At 9:17 p.m., the police arrived at Hudson’s parents’ house. When they entered the house, Hudson was sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee in his hand, and he appeared extremely intoxicated. Hudson’s father told the police that he wanted Hudson out of his house. The police arrested Hudson for being drunk in public and took him into custody. At the time of his arrest, Hudson’s blood alcohol content was .215. Although he did not tell the police when they arrived at his house, Hudson’s father had removed a .270 caliber rifle from Hudson’s car and taken it into the house prior to the arrival of police.
After being transported to the jail, Hudson was searched, and a .22 caliber bullet was found in his coat pocket. At 6:30 a.m. on September 21, Hudson was advised of his Miranda rights, and he gave a statement. According to Hudson, Mimi was unhappy after her father’s memorial service because she felt that she deserved more money and property from her father’s estate. He stated that while they were in the house, Mimi picked up the .22 caliber revolver that Hudson kept either on the couch or in a drawer adjacent to the couch, and started playing with it. Hudson told her, “[p]lease don’t do that[,]” and said that “[e]verything will be okay.” He said that while he was in the bathroom he heard a shot. He stated that when he returned, he saw Mimi slumping over on the couch. He said he never went near the body. He did not remember calling anyone after the shooting, including his mother, and he did not know why he did not call the 911 emergency number. He said that he left his house after the shooting, but cannot account for his whereabouts or actions from the time of Mimi’s shooting until 9:00 p.m., when he arrived at his parents’ house. Regarding the .22 caliber bullet found in his coat pocket, Hudson said he must have picked it up when he picked up loose change from his dresser.
On November 18, 1999, the Virginia State Police interviewed Hudson with his attorney present. Hudson made reference to a trust established for Mimi’s benefit. He again stated that he and Mimi had been drinking at home after the memorial service and that Mimi was upset because her brother, as trustee of the trust, would not allow her to purchase a pick-up truck and a trailer. He stated that Mimi then began playing with the .22 caliber revolver. After Hudson went into the bathroom, Mimi announced that she was going to shoot herself. Hudson replied not to worry about it, referring to the trust. He then heard a shot, and when he came out he saw that Mimi had shot herself. Hudson said he saw a little bit of blood around one of Mimi’s eyes. During the interview, Hudson said he never went near the body, but later he said he did not recall going near the body or touching it. He denied handling any firearms that night; he stated that his most recent handling of a firearm was two days prior to Mimi’s death. Again, he could not account for his whereabouts between the time of the shooting and the time he arrived at his parents’ house. Hudson did not remember any telephone calls being made or received that night, either by Mimi or him, including the telephone call to Thompson.
During trial, the medical examiner, Dr. Carolyn Revercomb (“Revercomb”), who conducted the autopsy on Mimi, testified that Mimi had a contact range wound to her head through her left ear. The bullet traveled from the left ear up towards the right and towards the back of her head. Revercomb testified that such a wound would cause immediate unconsciousness, and death would follow within minutes. She also testified that after the shot was fired, rapid and copious bleeding occurred and there would have been no voluntary movement by the victim.
Gary Arnsten (“Arnsten”), a forensic scientist with a specialty in firearms, testified that the bullet recovered from Mimi’s brain was fired from the .22 caliber revolver found on her right palm. Arnsten also testified that it is necessary to manually cock the hammer of this revolver before firing it.
Additionally, a fingerprint expert, Richard Willett (“Willett”) and a gunshot residue expert, Eugene R. Harrison (“Harrison”) testified. Willett testified that no latent fingerprints were found on the revolver or any cartridges. Harrison, however, testified that both Hudson and Mimi had primer residue on their hands. Only Mimi’s right hand had primer residue on it, and the residue matched the .22 caliber cartridge identified as having contained the fatal bullet. Harrison identified primer residue on both of Hudson’s hands, containing three elements, lead, barium, and antimony. The residue found on Mimi’s right hand contained only two elements, lead and barium. In light of these findings, Harrison testified that it would be “unlikely” but not “inconceivable” that the residue on Hudson’s hands came from the revolver that caused Mimi’s death.
Marjorie Harris (“Harris”), an expert in blood stains, testified regarding the blood stains found on the couch cushion, the front left thigh of Mimi’s jeans, and Mimi’s right forearm. Harris testified that the blood contact transfer stains came from heavily bloodied hands, but the stains did not come from Mimi’s hands because she had no visible blood on her hands. Harris also testified about the large blood stain that was found on the couch underneath a telephone book. She opined that
[t]he blood would have had to be placed there first and then the telephone book on top of that. . . . [T]he stain that is prevalent and shows on the telephone book is not consistent with the stain underneath it. That cushion had to be open to receive the blood and then the telephone book at a later time covered that blood stain.
Carol Palmer (“Palmer”), an expert in forensic biology, testified concerning the DNA composition of the various blood stains. First, Palmer testified that a spot of blood found on Hudson’s left shirt sleeve was consistent with Mimi’s DNA profile, and inconsistent with Hudson’s DNA profile. Palmer further testified that the probability of finding someone with the same DNA profile as Mimi would be approximately one in fifty-one million in the Caucasian population. Palmer also identified the stains on the couch, the back cushion of the couch, and Mimi’s jeans as having the same DNA profile as Mimi’s blood, but a different DNA profile than that of Hudson.
The burden of proof upon the state in a criminal case was given constitutional status in In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 364 (1970) wherein the Court stated “that the Due Process Clause protects the accused against conviction except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged.” Later, with an analysis of the history of the use of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, the Court acknowledged that the standard “defies easy explication,” but held the following:
The beyond a reasonable doubt standard is a requirement of due process, but the Constitution neither prohibits trial courts from defining reasonable doubt nor requires them to do so as a matter of course. Indeed, so long as the court instructs the jury on the necessity that the defendant’s guilt be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the Constitution does not require that any particular form of words be used in advising the jury of the government’s burden of proof. Rather “taken as a whole, the instructions [must] correctly convey the concept of reasonable doubt to the jury.”
Victor v. Nebraska, 511 U.S. 1, 5 (1994) (internal citations omitted).
Generally, there are two types of evidence presented during a trial – direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence is offered to prove as a fact the point in issue. Circumstantial evidence, by contrast, is offered to prove a fact not directly in issue, from which a fact in issue may reasonably be inferred.
There is no distinction in the law between the weight or value to be given to either direct or circumstantial evidence. The finder of fact is entitled to consider all of the evidence, without distinction, in reaching its determination. See Downden v. Commonwealth, 260 Va. 459, 468, 536 S.E.2d 437, 441 (2000). An instruction given in the case before us included the following:
When the Commonwealth relies upon circumstantial evidence, the circumstances proved must be consistent with guilt and inconsistent with innocence. It is not sufficient that the circumstances proved create a suspicion of guilt, however, strong, or even a probability of guilt.
The evidence as a whole must exclude every reasonable theory of innocence.
While such an instruction properly paraphrases our case law, the instruction, properly understood, does not add to the burden of proof placed upon the Commonwealth in a criminal case. The statement that circumstantial evidence must exclude every reasonable theory of innocence is simply another way of stating that the Commonwealth has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. See Cox v. Commonwealth, 140 Va. 513, 517, 125 S.E. 139, 141 (1924).
In the case before us, the Court of Appeals held that “the Commonwealth’s evidence fails to exclude all reasonable hypotheses of innocence.” Noting that Hudson argued that Mimi may have been “shot by accident” or “intentionally by her own act[,]” the Court of Appeals held that, “[t]here is evidence to support this hypothesis [sic] of innocence.” With respect to the question of who fired the weapon, the Court of Appeals held that “there is some evidence that Mrs. Hudson may have fatally fired the gun.” The error of the Court of Appeals is manifest in these holdings.
The issue upon appellate review is not whether “there is some evidence to support” these hypotheses. The issue is whether a reasonable jury, upon consideration of all the evidence, could have rejected Hudson’s theories in his defense and found him guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt. In support of its holding, the Court of Appeals focused primarily upon the evidence supporting Hudson’s theories, namely, that the “.22 revolver that fired the fatal shot was found in Mrs. Hudson’s hand[,]” “the gunshot residue found on Mrs. Hudson’s right hand was consistent with the .22 shells at the scene[,]” “the gunshot residue . . . found on Hudson’s hands was not consistent with that ammunition[,]” “there were no identifiable fingerprints found on the .22 revolver or any of the cartridges attributable to Hudson[,]” and the unsupported statement that “[t]here is simply no evidence establishing Hudson ever touched the weapon that fired the fatal bullet.”
We have held in many cases that, upon appellate review, the evidence and all reasonable inferences flowing therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the prevailing party in the trial court. Derr v. Commonwealth, 242 Va. 413, 424, 410 S.E.2d 662, 668 (1991); Higginbotham v. Commonwealth, 216 Va. 349, 352, 218 S.E.2d 534, 537 (1975). Circumstantial evidence is not viewed in isolation. “While no single piece of evidence may be sufficient, the ‘combined force of many concurrent and related circumstances, each insufficient in itself, may lead a reasonable mind irresistibly to a conclusion.’ ” Derr, 242 Va. at 425, 410 S.E.2d at 669 (citations omitted). It is the province of the jury to evaluate the credibility of witnesses. Bloom v. Commonwealth, 262 Va. 814, 821, 554 S.E.2d 84, 87 (2001); Phan v. Commonwealth, 258 Va. 506, 513, 521 S.E.2d 282, 286 (1999). It is “within the province of the jury to determine what inferences are to be drawn from proved facts, provided the inferences are reasonably related to those facts.” Inge, 217 Va. at 366, 228 S.E.2d at 567-68.
In the case before us, the analysis of the Court of Appeals viewed the evidence in the light most favorable to Hudson rather than to the Commonwealth as required. Additionally, the Court of Appeals emphasized Hudson’s evidence rather than the totality of the evidence as required. Finally, the Court of Appeals’ analysis did not give proper deference to the province of the jury to consider the testimony and the credibility of the witnesses to determine reasonable inferences from such evidence, and reject as unreasonable the hypotheses offered by Hudson.
Of course, upon appellate review, the issue of exclusion of reasonable theories of innocence is limited to those theories advanced by the accused at trial. Subject to the ends of justice exception, appellate courts will not entertain matters raised for the first time on appeal. Rule 5A:18; Rule 5:25. In the case before us, Hudson did not testify at trial; however, many of his pretrial statements were introduced through other witnesses. Hudson’s theory of innocence was advanced in counsel’s argument to the jury.
Hudson argued only that Mimi committed suicide. He did not advance a theory of accidental shooting by Mimi or by himself. He did not advance a theory that the fatal shot was fired by someone other than Mimi. In closing argument, counsel stated to the jury, “Tragically, tragically, suicide is the only reasonable explanation of what happened on September 20th, 1999.” Emphasizing the circumstantial nature of the evidence and the presumption of innocence, Hudson maintained that Mimi shot herself. He argued that there was no motive for Hudson to kill her, that Mimi had recently taken an overdose of medication, that there was no evidence of a prior history of violence between Hudson and Mimi, that both he and Mimi were under the influence of intoxicants, that the time between the telephone call to Thompson and Hudson’s telephone call to his parents was too short for a murder and a cover-up of the murder to take place, and that gunshot residue evidence was inconsistent with Hudson having fired the fatal shot.
The Commonwealth argued that the jury must consider all of the evidence, not just Hudson’s narrow isolation of certain aspects of the evidence. The Commonwealth argued that Hudson committed an unpremeditated killing of Mimi with malice sufficient to support a conviction for second-degree murder and that his theory of suicide was not reasonable. The Commonwealth properly noted that proof of motive is not an element of the offense, but nonetheless noted that the fatal shot was fired shortly after Hudson expressed his anger over a telephone call between Thompson and Mimi. Mimi had placed the call, but it was terminated when Hudson took the telephone, and directed obscenities at Thompson. Thompson hung up the telephone. Shortly thereafter, Mimi died from a gunshot wound to her brain through her left ear.
The Commonwealth argued that Hudson shot Mimi immediately after the telephone call was terminated. Further, the Commonwealth argued that the crime scene evidence was inconsistent with Hudson’s proffered theory of suicide and inconsistent with his own statements. There was no blood on Mimi’s hands. The revolver was on top of Mimi’s right palm in a position that was “backwards” from the position in which the revolver would have been found had Mimi shot herself. Mimi had an infected right elbow that was painful when manipulated. To have fired a long-barreled .22 revolver with her right hand into her left ear would have been awkward at best, and was most unlikely given her physical impairment.
Three bloody palm prints were found at the crime scene – one on the back of the sofa upon which Mimi’s body was located, one on the left pant leg on top of the pocket, and one on her forearm. Mimi had no blood on her hands. Hudson said that he did not touch Mimi after he found her on the sofa with a gunshot wound to the head. Under Hudson’s theory, only two people were in the house when the fatal shot was fired, Hudson and Mimi. Hudson’s parents came to the crime scene before the police, but they stated that neither of them touched Mimi and that they got no closer to the body than the coffee table in front of the sofa. Mimi’s right hand was found lying on open pages of a commercial telephone book. Mimi’s blood was pooled under the telephone book despite the fact that her right palm with the revolver in it was on top of the telephone book. An expert witness opined that the blood pooled on the sofa and thereafter, the telephone book covered the blood.
Hudson stated that he found Mimi on the sofa. Subsequently, according to his parents, he called his parents to tell them that Mimi had shot herself. Then he disappeared for over an hour. Hudson cannot account for his whereabouts during this time. When he was found by police at his parents’ house over an hour later, he had no blood on his hands. Curiously, when police had arrived at the crime scene, they had found a garden hose outside the house running “full blast” despite the fact that it was “pouring down rain.” Hudson recalled no telephone calls that had been made or received that night. His parents and Thompson refuted this statement. Hudson stated that he had not handled a firearm for two days. Primer residue was found on Hudson’s hands; however, in addition to lead and barium, the residue included antimony. Neighbors had heard rifle shots coming from the direction of the Hudson home in the afternoon before Mimi’s death. A .270 caliber rifle was taken by Hudson’s father from the back seat of Hudson’s car when he arrived at their home after Hudson’s unexplained absence following the fatal shot. Forensic examination revealed a blood stain, identified as Mimi’s blood, on Hudson’s shirt.
The Commonwealth argued to the jury that Hudson lied. He said that he had not handled a firearm in two days, yet primer residue was on his hands. He said that he had not touched Mimi or the couch, yet there were three bloody palm prints at the scene. Hudson never argued that his parents or anyone else accounted for these prints. Mimi’s hands were not bloody. When examined, Hudson’s hands were not bloody, but the hose had been found running “full blast” and over an hour had elapsed from the time that the police arrived at the crime scene to the time that Hudson was found at his parents’ house. The Commonwealth noted that the additional element of antimony found on Hudson’s hands was explained by its theory of the case: that Hudson shot Mimi, tried to arrange the crime scene to look like a suicide, washed his own hands, disappeared for over an hour, and was found with a recently fired rifle that was handled by Hudson after Mimi’s murder.
The jury was entitled to evaluate Hudson’s theory of innocence upon consideration of all the evidence and the reasonable inferences that flow from that evidence. It is clear that the jury rejected Hudson’s theory as unreasonable. The evidence from the crime scene and the ensuing investigation was inconsistent with Hudson’s theory of innocence and with his own statements to police. The jury was entitled to conclude that Hudson was lying to police and to reject the explanation offered by Hudson and utilized in closing argument by Hudson’s counsel.
For the reasons stated, we hold that the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the judgment of the trial court. We will reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and enter final judgment reinstating the judgment of the trial court.
Reversed and final judgment.
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard