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Man sentenced to 20 years for slaying woman in home where he stayed

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Boone County man was sentenced to 20 years in jail after he admitted he shot a friend in her Winifred Hollow home last year.

John Hudson, 39, of Ashford apologized in court. Hudson has insisted all along that the shooting of Michelle Gillispie in January 2012 was an accident.

"We were friends for over 20 years," Hudson told Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman. "When that gun went off, I panicked and just wanted to get away from that house."

Gillispie's body was discovered shortly afterwards by her boyfriend. She was holding a cigarette in one hand and a cell phone in the other. She died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

Hudson never called for help. Instead, he drove Gillispie's car to several local pawn shops and sold some of the couple's belongings.

Hudson had been living with the couple at the time of the shooting. Gillispie, knowing of his problems with drugs, had helped him on and off through the years.

"What is lacking in this case is any motive," said John Carr, Hudson's defense attorney, saying that the money he got from selling the those items wasn't for drugs but for transportation money to get to his mother in Florida. 

Hudson was charged with first-degree murder but entered into an agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

At his plea hearing, Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Gordon said the killing was not pre-meditated but done under "sudden excitement."

He has a prior Federal conviction for a methamphetamine charge and served nearly six years in prison plus five years on probation. Kaufman sentenced him to the maximum of 15 years in prison on the manslaughter charge and another five years because it was his second felony.

Donald Gillispie, the victim's father, struggled to compose himself in the courtroom. He called Hudson a "low-life" and "scumbag."

"He let my daughter lie on the floor and bleed to death while he robbed the house and garage and took the stuff to two or three pawn shops," Gillispie said. "You don't do that if it is an accident."

He described his daughter as a kind and compassionate woman who often came to the rescue of stray animals and was trying to help Hudson.

"And this is how he repaid her," Gillispie said to the judge. "He has ruined a lot of lives. I plead with you to give him the maximum, not to let criminals like him think they can kill someone and say it's an accident and get off."

Gillispie said to Hudson, "I hope the rest of your life is misery."

Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Gordon said, "The only two people who know what happened were Michelle Gillispie and Mr. Hudson. He indicated he is remorseful, but on that day he was more worried about himself than her. Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at cherylc@dailymail.com or 304-348-4832


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