James B. Hudson did not fight his death sentence for killing three neighbors over a disputed driveway, nor did he want to see any of the relatives who came last night to say goodbye.
The Virginia man was executed by injection in the state's death chamber last night, two years after the fatal dispute. He declined to meet with anyone beforehand -- not his family members, not a clergy member and not his attorney, officials said.
Hudson, 57, was pronounced dead at 9:07 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, said Larry Traylor, a Corrections Department spokesman. Hudson did not make a final statement. Earlier, he ate his final meal of french fries with "lots of ketchup,'' a cheeseburger with mayonnaise and tomato, tossed salad with French dressing, crackers and apple pie, Traylor said.
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 in rural Halifax County, 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.
The simmering dispute erupted 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, according to court records and prosecutors.
After Thomas Cole stopped, talked to Hudson and then began to drive away, Hudson grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun from his vehicle and fired through the windshield of the Coles' truck.
Hudson then drove to the front of the house and found Patsy Cole working in the garden. According to a neighbor, he raised the shotgun. Patsy Cole asked Hudson, "What are you doing?'' Hudson then shot her and drove away.
When a judge sentenced him to death in April 2003, Hudson stood mute, court records show. He then directed his attorneys not to file any challenges to the sentence. The Virginia Supreme Court affirmed Hudson's sentence in January.
It is unusual for a death row inmate to accept the sentence, though not unprecedented, said Timothy Murtaugh, a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore (R). "In most cases, the inmates will exhaust their appeals,'' Murtaugh said.
In a statement last night, Kilgore said that "justice has been served. . . . Hudson's crimes were deliberate, designed to inflict the most damage possible on his victims, and were committed execution style.''
The execution was the fourth in Virginia this year. Halifax County is in south-central Virginia near the North Carolina border.