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Court upholds conviction for 2012 murder in Jefferson City

Court upholds conviction for 2012 murder in Jefferson City

June 20th, 2019 by Bob Watson in Local News

A three-judge state appeals court panel in Kansas City ruled Tuesday that Calvin Hutson, 41, will remain in prison at the state's Potosi Correctional Center — where he's serving a life sentence following his 2014 second-degree murder conviction in Cole County Circuit Court.

After deliberating nearly 11 hours in May 2014, a jury convicted Hutson, of St. Louis, of killing Andre Hudson, 41, of Holts Summit, on Dec. 27, 2012, during what prosecutors said was an attempted robbery.

The jury also convicted Hutson of armed criminal action; distributing, delivering or manufacturing a controlled substance; possession of a firearm by a felon; and attempted first-degree robbery.

Circuit Judge Dan Green in October 2016 ordered the sentences on those other convictions to be served after the life sentence is finished.

The appeals court in Kansas City in April 2016 upheld the convictions and sentences, but Hutson's new appeal argued his trial attorney, Special Public Defender Kevin J. Lorenz, of Columbia, had been ineffective in handling Hutson's defense.

Court records noted Hutson had met with a couple other people Dec. 27, 2012, telling them he wanted to rob someone of marijuana.

Trial records reviewed by the appeals court showed Hudson had told his wife they were going to meet somebody to get some money, while she understood there was going to be some kind of drug transaction.

Evidence presented during the trial showed the two men met at about 7 p.m. on the parking lot of what then was Zesto on Broadway Street just south of the U.S. 50-63 Expressway.

Then they drove separately to a gravel lot on Schroeder Way, up the hill from the restaurant.

There, Hudson left the red Chevrolet Silverado he'd been riding in and joined Hutson in a Dodge Stratus driven by Justin Beasley.

A few minutes later, witnesses said the Stratus was rocking, and then several shots were heard.

Hudson was killed by a bullet that entered his head near his eye and exited past his ear.

In his most recent appeal, Hutson said Lorenz should have objected to "an erroneous self-defense instruction" that Lorenz had submitted to the court.

While Lorenz admitted he had accidentally failed to include a part of the instruction that should have been submitted to the jury, the rest of the instruction told the jury the information it needed to know, the appeals court said, and the motion court "did not clearly err in concluding that the jury was not misled or confused by the erroneous instruction."

Hutson also argued Lorenz should have worked to "impeach" Justin Beasley's credibility as a witness because he was testifying after reaching a plea deal with then-Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson.

Beasley was in the car when the shooting began but ran after the first shot was fired.

Lorenz testified at a motion hearing that he "definitely did not" want the jury to hear Beasley had agreed to plead guilty to attempted robbery and second-degree murder since the defense strategy was that Hutson had not planned to commit any robbery, and the shooting occurred during a drug deal in which Hutson had acted in self-defense.

Beasley did testify Hudson had fired the first shot.

The three-judge panel agreed that was a valid trial strategy and Lorenz's work wasn't ineffective on that claim.

Finally, Hutson argued Lorenz should have objected to a jury instruction that was worded differently from the prosecutor's charge.

While acknowledging there was a difference in the wording, the court wrote: "We fail to see how the verdict director submitted a new and distinct offense from that charged in the substitute information. Both alleged or required that Hutson used or threatened to use a firearm to take drugs from the victim without his consent."

The court added: "Counsel will not be deemed ineffective for failing to make non-meritorious objections."