- The Washington Times - Monday, August 16, 2004

RICHMOND — Having abandoned his appeals, a Halifax County man was to be executed tomorrow night for fatally shooting three neighbors over a disputed driveway.

James B. Hudson pleaded guilty to shooting brothers Walter Stanley Cole, 56, and Thomas Wesley Cole, 64, and the latter’s wife, Patsy Ayers Cole, 64, outside their Halifax County home in July 2002. After imposing the death sentence, Judge Leslie Osborn called the killings “cold-blooded, pitiless, senseless.”

Hudson, 57, is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt at 9 p.m. tomorrow.

Hudson declined an interview request, but his attorney said he has refused to pursue further appeals and would not petition Gov. Mark Warner for clemency.

“He made it clear from the very beginning he was not going to put on any defense,” said Buddy Ward, Halifax County public defender. “He is sort of overwhelmed with remorse and he wants to die.”

Mr. Ward said Hudson and the Cole brothers had a long-standing dispute over the driveway that began after Hudson’s father sold a parcel of land to the Coles containing the road.

Hudson maintained the right to use the driveway to get to his property, but he frequently complained that the Coles were not taking care of it, Mr. Ward said.

“One day one of them said something that pushed him over the edge,” Mr. Ward said. “He got angry and he grabbed his shotgun.”

Former Halifax Commonwealth’s Attorney John Greenbacker, who prosecuted the case, said the Coles were driving along the road on July 3, 2002, when they encountered Hudson’s truck blocking the way. A farm worker testified that Hudson and Thomas Cole exchanged words, then Hudson grabbed a shotgun out of his truck and shot Walter Cole, who was sitting in the front seat.

Thomas Cole tried to flee, but tripped and fell in a ditch. Hudson shot him in the back of the head.

Mr. Greenbacker said Hudson then drove to Thomas Cole’s house next door and found his wife, Patsy, gardening. A neighbor testified that Mrs. Cole called out to Hudson and Hudson opened fire.

He drove off and was arrested after a 23-hour manhunt.

“If the death penalty means anything, it should be applied in this case,” Mr. Greenbacker said. “He went about it in such a methodical way.”

The trial was short because Hudson refused to allow Mr. Ward to call any witnesses, including himself. He was sentenced to death in April 2003.

Walter Cole owned the South Boston Livestock Market for more than 20 years and was president of the Percheron Horse Association of Virginia. He also was a cattle and tobacco farmer.

Thomas Cole was a retired plant manager for Burlington Industries, and Mrs. Cole was a retired medical lab technologist.

Hudson’s execution would be the fourth in Virginia this year and the 93rd since the state resumed executions in 1982 after a 20-year hiatus.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide