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Jury convicted of first and second degree murder in Kenneth Hudspeth trial

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CLARKSVILLE, Tennessee (CLARKSVILLE NOW– On the fifth day of Kenneth Hudspeth’s trial, the 50-year-old was convicted by the jury on first and second degree murder charges in the death of 23-year-old Crista Bramlitt in 1996.

Hudspeth was convicted of second degree murder, first degree murder in the commission of a felony and two counts of aggravated rape.

The verdict comes after four days of testimony from experts, investigators and Hudspeth himself. The 25-year-old case was reopened in 2019 after a DNA match was established, placing Hudspeth at the scene.

The verdict was delivered shortly after 11:30 a.m. Friday after the jury deliberated for four hours on Thursday and just over two hours on Friday morning.

State pleadings

Ahead of final argument on Thursday, the jury received detailed instructions on how they might find Hudspeth on the four counts he was charged with. These included first degree murder, first degree murder committed for a felony and two counts of aggravated rape.

Nash began by dispelling Hudspeth’s claim that one of the reasons he lied to Ulrey during the April 2019 interview was that he was nervous and scared.

He replayed the first four minutes of Hudspeth’s interview, during which he was heard chatting with the Phoenix cops and even recording the day’s weather.

“As soon as he was confronted with law enforcement, he was reaching out to shake their hands, discussing how he had broken his wrist. Just a casual conversation with these people, ”Nash said.

Kenneth Hudspeth, left, and Crista Bramlitt.

Nash then entered Hudspeth’s testimony, in which he admitted to lying, but was telling the truth Wednesday on the witness stand.

“The only reason to lie about having sex with her (Bramlitt), to tell this story two and a half years ago – the only reason he didn’t tell Detective Ulrey at the ‘time – it’s because he knew he had left her like this, ”Nash said, holding up the photo of how Bramlitt’s body was discovered.

He then mentioned again how Hudspeth claimed Bramlitt smoked crack with him the night he died, despite his toxicology returning.

“Such elaborate deception and manipulation,” Nash then said of Hudspeth’s story before entering into a speculation where Hudspeth could be found not guilty.

“Sir. Hudspeth had sex, it’s fine as long as it’s been. And there you go, there’s someone else out there, who – we don’t know, we still don’t know. – who walked in, left no trace of semen in her, made those smaller slices on her neck for some reason and then choked her and blown away.

He called this theory absurd.

“Can your mind be at ease in believing everything Mr. Hudspeth has told you?” Nash said near the end of his statement before asking the jury to find Hudspeth guilty on all counts.

Defense

In his closing statements, Hudspeth defense attorney John Parker told the jury that video footage from the Phoenix interview in April 2019 did not show the moments leading up to the police being placed in the police station. interrogation room.

“I don’t even know if this video exists but we haven’t seen it,” Parker said of why Hudspeth might have been scared and nervous, leading him to lie to Ulrey.

He then said there was nothing to support the state’s theory that Hudspeth had placed a knife on Bramlitt’s throat, causing the small lesions on his skin.

“It’s nothing but speculation, just like the whole thing, that’s it,” Parker said.

He brought up the fact that no one knows what happened from the time Hudspeth left Bramlitt’s trailer, which Hudspeth said was around 7 or 8 p.m. that evening, until his body be discovered the next day around 1 p.m.

“I never heard the hour of death said once (for Bramlitt),” Parker continued.

Parker picked up on every testimony the jury heard. When he arrived at Cheryl Anderson, a retired Clarksville Police Department homicide investigator who testified Monday, he mentioned her statement that the hair taken from Bramlitt’s body had never been tested for DNA.

“Where are they now? I have no idea. Were they sent to the lab? I have no idea,” Parker said.

He also repeated the experts’ conclusions that Hudspeth’s DNA was not conclusively found on the pillow that was allegedly used to suffocate Bramlitt or on the knife that slit his throat.

“I’m not sure how much more reasonable doubt there can be than that,” Parker said before reiterating that while Hudspeth lied to Ulrey about having sex with Bramlitt initially, he was not lying. not on the witness stand on Wednesday.

Kenneth Hudspeth entering the courtroom after the jury announced he had rendered a verdict on September 24, 2021 (Keely Quinlan).

The verdict

The courtroom was still as the foreman read the verdicts. While finding Hudspeth not guilty on the count of first degree murder, the jury returned guilty on the lesser charge of second degree murder.

Judge Robert E. Lee Davies then revoked the bond that had been set for Hudspeth after his arrest in 2019.

“Of course, I’m glad we were able to get justice for Crista Bramlitt after this long delay,” Nash told Clarksville Now.

“I mean, there is not much to be happy about,” he continued, noting the overall tragedy of the case.

“We’re obviously not happy with this, and we’ll do whatever it takes after that,” Parker said before adding that they were planning to appeal the case.

Hudspeth’s mother Rose told Clarksville Now on Tuesday that it was impossible for her son to have committed the crimes he was accused of.

She and her daughter Melinda, Hudspeth’s sister, attended the trial all week after traveling from Arkansas.

“There’s just no way he’s going to do that,” Rose said, adding that she was praying to God for a positive outcome for her son.

After the verdict was read, Rose called the trial unfair. “None of the evidence pointed to Kenneth,” Rose said.

“He was already found guilty by your legal system even before the trial started,” Melinda added.

Bramlitt’s daughter, who was only 3 when her mother was killed, was unable to attend the trial as she is currently expecting a baby, according to witness coordinator Jemina Clinard.

After the defense waived the 45-day deadline, Hudspeth’s sentencing hearing was set for December 8.


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