- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2004

JARRATT, Va. — A Virginia man who gave up his final appeals and refused to ask Gov. Mark Warner for clemency was executed last night for killing three neighbors after a long-running dispute over a driveway.

James Bryant Hudson, 57, died after receiving a lethal injectionat the Greens-ville Correctional Centerat 9:07 p.m.

Hudson shuffled to the gurney with the help of two guards, who supported him under his arms. He was wearing a light blue button-down shirt and dark blue pants. His gray hair was neatly combed.

When asked whether he had any final words, Hudson said in a clear voice, “No sir.”

He did not meet with any family or his attorneys yesterday.

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.

Mr. Warner said earlier yesterday that he would not intervene in the execution because Hudson did not petition him for clemency and there are no legal challenges pending.

The dispute over the driveway shared by Hudson and the Cole brothers began after Hudson’s father sold a parcel of land to the Coles five miles from the North Carolina border, Hudson’s attorney, Buddy Ward, said.

Mr. Ward said Hudson maintained the right to use a road that ran through the Coles’ property to get to his home, but he frequently complained that the Coles were not taking care of it.

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 12-gauge 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, working in the garden. 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.

Hudson refused to allow Mr. Ward to call any witnesses at his trial. He was convicted of two counts of capital murder for killing the Cole brothers, and one count of first-degree murder for killing Mrs. Cole.

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 was the fourth in Virginia this year and the 93rd since the state resumed executions in 1982 after a 20-year hiatus.


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