Prosecutors called a psychologist to testify Tuesday morning about the state of 35-year-old William Mitchell Hudson’s mental health as the capital murder trial’s punishment phase stretched into its fifth day.
Hudson, from East Texas’s Tennessee Colony, was indicted on three counts of capital murder in connection with the slayings of Thomas Kamp, 45; Austin Kamp, 21; Nathan Kamp, 23; Kade Johnson, 6; Hannah Johnson, 40; and Carl Johnson, 76, at a campsite in Anderson County.
Jurors convicted Hudson of capital murder after less than 20 minutes of deliberation last week for killing Hannah Johnson and her father, Carl Johnson.
The Johnson and Kamp families met up on Nov. 14, 2015, at land Thomas Kamp recently had purchased from a member of Hudson’s family, a transaction that Hudson was not happy about.
Jurors convicted Hudson for beating Hannah Johnson to death, and shooting and assaulting her father, Carl. Evidence showed that Hudson also shot and killed the four others in the woods while they were looking for firewood, shortly before he returned to the campsite to kill Hannah and Carl.
Hudson faces life in prison without parole or death by lethal injection. The case was moved to Brazos County because of pre-trial publicity in Anderson County, which is more than 100 miles northeast of Bryan.
The defense rested its case late Wednesday afternoon, allowing prosecutors the chance to call witnesses to rebut the defense’s case.
Dr. Timothy Proctor, a psychologist who has a private practice and who testifies for prosecutors and defense counsel in criminal trials, testified Tuesday morning that Hudson has a personality disorder, not a mental illness; the differences, Proctor said, are that mental illnesses wax, wane and develop over time, and can be treated with medication.
Personality disorders, Proctor said, have more to do with a person’s personality makeup, which Proctor said “tends to be there throughout their life.”
”Once you have a personality disorder, it’s there, and it’s going to continue to be there,” Proctor said, noting that these disorders are not easily treated, “especially the type Mr. Hudson has."
Based on his interviews with Hudson and his friends and family, Proctor said Hudson’s rage, manipulative tendencies and impulsiveness are likely due to his personality, not brain damage he sustained over the course of his life, as testimony from another mental health professional on Monday had indicated.
Monday, Dr. Antoinette McGarrahan, forensic psychologist and neuropsychologist, testified Hudson’s IQ score had diminished since he dropped out of high school -- around the year 2000 -- because of a combination of two rollover car accidents, alcohol abuse and a history of seizures.
Proctor said Tuesday he agreed Hudson’s brain had been damaged, but, based on his reading and interviews with people who had known throughout his life, Hudson’s manipulative tendencies and rage has been “consistent across the board” and occurring throughout his life.
“From the time he’s been late-adolescent or early adulthood, from everything I’ve read,” Proctor said, “he’s been the same kind of guy.”
Recalling research under cross-examination by Defense Attorney Stephen Evans, Proctor said some studies have shown lower rates of violence among inmates serving life without parole sentences -- as Hudson would if he were not sentenced to death -- than prisoners serving sentences that eventually end.
Further questioned by Special Prosecutor Lisa Tanner, Proctor said there was “no indication” Hudson would live peacefully alongside other inmates at a state prison.”So far, any one he has lived with or lived around, he’s had a lot of problems with,” said Proctor.
Prosecutors also called Erin Phillips, a neurologist in Tyler, to testify about an MRI of Hudson’s brain taken in September 2015. Phillips said Hudson’s brain did not appear to be structurally damaged in any way; under cross-examination by Evans, Phillips said MRIs show a brain’s structure, but not its level of functioning.
The trial continues at 1:30 p.m. in the Brazos County Courthouse.