A Virginia man scheduled to be executed tomorrow night has directed his attorneys not to file any challenges to his death sentence for the murder of three of his neighbors in a dispute over a driveway, authorities said yesterday.
James B. Hudson, 57, expressed no remorse over the execution-style slayings, did not speak when a judge in rural Halifax County sentenced him to death last year and never challenged the sentence, according to prosecutors and court transcripts.
Hudson pleaded guilty to the killings of Patsy A. Cole and Thomas W. Cole, both 64, and Thomas's brother Walter S. Cole, 56. A single driveway connected the homes of Hudson and Walter Cole, and the families had been feuding for years after Hudson's father sold a parcel of land containing the road to the Coles, prosecutors said.
On July 3, 2002, the two Cole brothers were riding in a truck on the driveway when they encountered Hudson's vehicle stopped in the middle of the driveway facing them. Thomas Cole stopped and talked to Hudson. When Cole began driving away, Hudson took a 12-gauge shotgun from his vehicle and fired through the windshield of the Coles' truck, Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore said in a summary of the case.
Hudson then drove around to the front of the house, where Patsy Cole was working in the garden. A neighbor saw Hudson get out of the truck and raise the shotgun. According to Kilgore, Patsy Cole asked Hudson, "What are you doing?'' Hudson then shot her and drove away.
A Halifax County judge called the crimes "coldblooded, pitiless, senseless slayings" when he sentenced Hudson to death in April 2003. The Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the sentence in January.
Hudson's attorney, Robert Morrison, did not respond to telephone calls and e-mails yesterday.
Buddy Ward, Halifax County public defender, told the Associated Press: "He made it clear from the very beginning he was not going to put on any defense. He is sort of overwhelmed with remorse, and he wants to die."
Halifax County Commonwealth's Attorney Kimberley White, whose office prosecuted the case, called Hudson's crimes "unprovoked, calculated and irrational.'' Halifax County is in south-central Virginia near the North Carolina border.
Hudson's execution by injection at the Greensville Correctional Center would be the fourth in Virginia this year.