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2009-11-19

Murder trial postponed until December

By Judith Pannebaker

The trial of former Lakehills resident, Karl Anthony Hodson, in the alleged 2007 murder of pizza deliveryman, Leon Poe, 27, of San Antonio, slated to begin Tuesday, Nov. 17, in Kerr County, has been continued.

Due to an insufficient jury pool, the case has been reset to Monday, Dec. 7. According to 216th Assistant District Attorney Lucy Wilke, who will prosecute the case, 350 people were summoned for jury duty, but only 67 appeared - and that was before voir dire, a process which excuses and exempts jurors.

According to www.legal-definitions.com, voir dire offers attorneys and judges an opportunity to examine jurors before their empanelment to determine a potential juror’s “integrity and balanced approach.” Voir dire means to observe and talk to a person for evaluation purposes.

“It is my understanding that 500 people will be summoned for the Dec. 7 trial with the hope to have a pool of at least 100, but preferably 150 potential jurors,” Wilke wrote in an email on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

Another matter before 216th Judicial District Judge Keith Williams was defense attorney Kurt Rudkin’s recent motion to reconsider the suppression of statements Hodson, 24, made to a law enforcement officer after being arrested.

The saga began in July 2007 when Bandera County deputies apprehended Hodson after an all-night manhunt. The previous evening Hodson had fled an interview at the BCSO Lakehills annex.

After being magistrated by Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Eino Zapata, Hodson was transported to Kendall County where the alleged crime had occurred.

Because of pre-trial publicity, his court appointed attorney, Kurt Rudkin of Boerne, successfully petitioned for a change of venue for the trial. Wayne Huff of San Antonio also serves as attorney for the defense.

However, Rudkin was less successful in two previous attempts to suppress statements given by Hodson to law enforcement officers. Former District Judge Stephen Ables and current District Judge Keith Williams denied both of his motions to suppress.

Undeterred, Rudkin filed a motion to reconsider suppressing statements his client made to Lt. Louis Martinez of the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office after Hodson’s transport to the KC Law Enforcement Center. He allegedly made self-incriminating statements to Martinez.

In September, Williams denied Rudkin’s first motion to suppress after hearing the motion in Gillespie County.

According to Wilke, Williams denied Rudkin’s motion to reconsider on Thursday, Nov. 12, adding, “(The motion) was re-urged again this morning (Nov. 17) and again, denied.”

To create reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors - should any be impaneled - recent reports have suggested that Rudkin will argue that Hodson’s alleged accomplice, Jenilee A. Sheppard, 22, of San Antonio, is the actual killer.

A possible defense scenario would purport that after stabbing Poe through the heart, Sheppard persuaded Hodson to take the blame for the murder. Hodson, meanwhile, maintains he accidentally stabbed Poe with a knife after slipping on gravel.
\Poe apparently bled out almost immediately after a single knife thrust into his chest nicked his aortic artery.

A trial date for Sheppard, who is being defended by Kerrville attorney Harold Danford, has not been set.

In an email sent prior to the case’s continuance, Wilke indicated she did not anticipate offering a plea bargain to Hodson. Additionally, the state is no longer seeking the death penalty as originally planned.