Police interview tapes with murder suspect viewed
By PRESTON GILL
Jurors intently watched two interviews Thursday afternoon which Franklin police recorded with then 15-year-old Jamichael Hudson, questioning him in the presence of his mother about his knowledge of a Feb. 3, 2010 double murder for which he is on trial here at 16th Judicial Court.
Hudson’s story and demeanor changed in the second interview, conducted March 1, 2010. Inconsistencies in his statements were pointed out and he eventually said that he was on the front porch of the victims’ house on the evening of the murder.
Attorney Edward Moses Jr., representing Hudson, pointed out to the jury that he did not admit to taking part in, or observing a robbery or a killing.
Franklin Police Capt. Carla Weidenboerner first interviewed Hudson a week after the brutal murder of Audrey Picard, 75, and Larry Guillory, 49, at 6 Darce Lane. Hudson claimed in that Feb. 10 interview that he went to visit his cousin, Randy Joseph, on the evening of the murders.
He said he left Joseph and Joseph’s girlfriend, Brook Johnson, around 8 p.m. to go home but on the way home he stopped to visit a girl named Kianna. He did not know the girl’s last name or the address of her trailer. He said he did not see anybody in the area and he did not go to the Darce Lane residence that night. He said he may have been at the residence with Joseph a month earlier to check on Guillory, who was Joseph’s uncle.
Hudson’s mother, Ruby Johnson, said she found her son home on Feb. 3, when she got in from work about 9:15 or 9:20 p.m. Mother and son both appeared cooperative during the interview.
Hudson, who has remained stoic through the first two days of the trial, twice showed measured emotion as he sat at the defense table while the second interview played.
His mother died less than six weeks ago. He shook his head at one point several times while watching her speak. Another time, while viewing the same interview, lead detective Capt. Tina Thibodeaux became aggressive in her questioning. Hudson, keeping his eyes on the screen, raised his hands outward, his palms turned up and shrugged his shoulders in a gesture often used in frustration.
In the March 1, 2010 interview he said he visited a girl named Destiny. Instead of saying he saw nobody, he said he and Joseph were walking along the street and saw two other guys. He repeated he went home around 8:30 or 9 p.m.
He became less cooperative as the interview progressed. Several times he insisted he had not spoken to either Joseph or Johnson since the murders.
The investigators challenged his story.
The story you told Ms. Carla is not what happened last night. This is your second time coming here. You can tell us what happened,” lead detective Thibodeaux demanded. “Tell me what happened that night, the truth. ... I know you are not telling the truth”
Thibodeaux told Hudson that he had been recorded in a three-way call with Joseph that Joseph placed to Brook Johnson on a recorded line from the police department. Joseph was incarcerated on an unrelated charge at the time.
Prosecuting attorney Anthony Saleme played that call in which Joseph could be heard telling Hudson that police were suspecting their involvement in the murder and would be looking for him.
Under Thibodeaux’s intense questioning, Hudson eventually admitted he had gone to the house on Darce Lane that night while Joseph checked on Guillory. He said he was on the porch. He said Joseph called him back later that night and said he had gone back to check on his uncle and found him dead.
Thursday morning Saleme had asked Bethany Harris, expert DNA analyst from Acadiana Crime Lab, to discuss the findings from a pocket taken by investigators off Guillory’s coveralls he was wearing. In addition to Guillory’s DNA, the analyst said Hudson could not be ruled out as contributor to other DNA found on the pocket but it could not be stated with reasonable scientific certainty it was his DNA.
Harris said there was a 99.997 percent probability that the DNA belonged to Hudson.
Moses repeatedly emphasized that since there was not enough markings available to be tested, the results did not point to his client as the only possible person that DNA could belong to.
Throughout the trial Moses has tried to raise a reasonable doubt about the evidence the state is presenting. Besides pointing out the DNA was not 100 percent conclusive, he has managed to get witnesses to admit evidence that seemed problematic for his client could have other explanations. When Hudson changed his story with Franklin police investigators, Moses said the change occurred after he spoke to Joseph, implying that it was the influence or coercion of Joseph that was the cause of Hudson’s shifting story.
Joseph pleaded guilty to two counts of murder in January 2012 and was given two life sentences. Prior to sentencing Assistant District Attorney Vincent Borne gave a statement of facts to which Joseph agreed was substantially accurate.
Borne said Joseph admitted going to his uncle’s house for a robbery but claimed Hudson had struck both victims multiple times with a long blunt object after which Joseph located Picard’s cigarette wallet with about $300 on the couch.
Transcripts of the proceeding show his public defender said before his plea that Joseph had refused to plea to a lesser charge in exchange for testifying against Hudson. Saleme would not comment on whether Joseph will be brought to testify today when testimony resumes.
Moses said he is considering presenting witnesses when the state rests its case but Hudson will not take the stand.