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'Sudden excitement,' rather than premeditiation, cited in shooting fatality

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Boone County man will be sentenced for voluntary manslaughter in the January shooting death of a woman in her Chesapeake area home.

Prosecutors said John Edward Hudson, 39, of Ashford killed Michelle Lynn Gillispie, 39, under "sudden excitement." He was charged with first-degree murder but entered a Kennedy-Frazier plea to voluntary manslaughter.

That type of plea is often used when a defendant doesn't admit guilt but concedes there is enough evidence for a jury to convict.

Voluntary manslaughter carries a possible sentence of three to 15 years in prison. However, Hudson also pleaded guilty to being a recidivist because of previous felony charges and will see his sentence expanded by another five years.

Hudson was convicted in 1999 of aiding and abetting the distribution of methamphetamine. He served a five-year, nine-month sentence and spent an additional five years on probation for that crime.

Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Meadows said, "He got a firearm - a revolver - to kill Michelle Gillispie. It was without premeditation and not intentional. It was done under sudden excitement."

In exchange for his plea, the state secured a letter from the federal prosecutor's office that it would not seek to charge Hudson for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman, however, said a federal or a state grand jury still could bring charges against him.

Charges of first-degree murder and grand larceny were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. Hudson will be sentenced in February.

Gillispie was found dead in her Winifrede Hollow home Jan. 30. She died of a single gunshot wound to the head. Police said Hudson had been staying at Gillispie's home for a few months, but the two were not a couple.

Hudson said publicly after he was arrested that the shooting was an accident.

Police said Hudson fled the scene in Gillispie's vehicle and also stole several items from the home with the intention of pawning them. Family members said Hudson was a friend of Gillispie's and her boyfriend, Mark Southern, who found the body and called police.  

Hudson turned himself in to police after the incident.

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at or 304-348-4832.



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