New London murder trial ends with plea deal shortly after beginning
The trial of Jerome Hudson, over the 2017 fatal stabbing of Travon Brown, ended with a guilty plea to a lesser charge soon after it started Tuesday in New London Superior Court.
Prosecutor Christa L. Baker said plea negotiations resumed in the case after key witnesses to the stabbing death of Travon Brown refused to testify.
Hudson pleaded guilty to manslaughter and will be sentenced June 4 to 18 years in prison followed by seven years of special parole. He will have to serve at least 85 percent of the prison sentence, or just over 15 years, under state law.
The victim’s brother, Curtis Goodwin, who was watching the trial with family members, said he knew of at least one witness who refused to testify because he feared for his family’s safety.
Goodwin said that, as a person of color from New London, he understands the misconceptions and distrust of the justice system. “But wouldn’t it be the human thing to provide justice to people who are in pain?” he said by phone Tuesday evening. “I wish other people would not have to go through this, but this is just going to continue.”
Goodwin said the state’s attorney’s office and victim advocate had done a “wonderful job” of keeping his family up to date and making them part of the process.
Prior to the guilty plea, jurors heard testimony from a New London police dispatcher and a city patrolman about the chaotic scene at 22 Grand St. on Dec. 17, 2017. The cement steps leading to the side entrance of the home were covered in blood, and inside, Brown, who had suffered a stab wound to the left side of his chest, was lying on his back in the living room, wincing with pain, Patrolman Eric Holland testified.
Hudson, also known as Irving Jerome Hudson, was charged with murdering 27-year-old Brown. He had pleaded not guilty and opted for a trial before a jury of 12 rather than accepting an earlier plea offer involving a 40-year prison sentence. He marked his 30th birthday in prison last week.
Wearing a dark gray business suit, he sat between his attorneys, Christopher Duby and Patrick White.
Prosecutors Christa L. Baker and Paul Narducci began calling witnesses and introducing crime scene photos with assistance from Inspector Timothy Pitkin.
Brown’s mother and siblings and several supporters of Hudson watched from the gallery as prosecutors elicited testimony from first responders. Goodwin said it was a difficult situation because New London is a small city where everyone knows one another. Hudson and Brown had attended school together and were friends until a life-altering dispute near the end of 2017.
Police allege Hudson stabbed Brown in retaliation for a Nov. 8, 2017, incident on Mountain Avenue in New London, in which Brown stabbed Hudson. The motive had not yet been revealed in court.
Emergency dispatcher Jennifer Candelario, working the day shift at police headquarters on Dec. 17, 2017, testified that she received a call about 2:30 p.m. from a woman who said a man had come to her house with stab wounds. Candelario testified that she called the number back after the initial call was lost and began dispatching officers and medical personnel to what was considered a “hot” call.
The jury listened to a recording of the 911 call in which the female caller identified the victim as Travon Brown, a friend of her granddaughter’s boyfriend, and said he was on the floor bleeding. A male took the phone and responded, “No, he’s not OK,” when asked about Brown’s condition but added that Brown was breathing.
Holland testified that he and officer Deana Nott arrived at the scene about the same time. He noticed bloody footprints leading to the side entrance, blood on the cement steps and ear buds and a cellphone on the ground. Nott took the lead with the victim, who was lying on his back in the cramped and cluttered living room, Holland testified, and he kept an eye on the surroundings. A man who had guided him into the home was in the room and he’d noticed a woman going up the stairs as he entered.
Holland said Nott tried to calm down the victim, stem his bleeding with paper towels and ask basic questions. “She kept saying, ‘Who did this to you?’” he testified.
Brown, who knew Nott, was saying, “Help me, D. Help me, D,” Holland testified.
Nott, who said that Brown identified Hudson, also known as “Black,” as his attacker while she ministered to him on the floor, was expected to face a grueling cross-examination about the so-called dying declaration.
The defense was expected to challenge her credibility, based on her 2018 conviction for striking a handcuffed suspect. Hudson’s lawyers subpoenaed Nott’s personnel record, and Judge Barbara Bailey Jongloed was reviewing it to determine what parts of it could be admitted as evidence.
The trial originally was expected to continue through early April.