By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
PYMATUNING TOWNSHIP —
Jessi L. Hudson, 22, has been in Mercer County Jail since early February when he was charged by two local police departments with shooting a woman and opening fire on police during a home invasion in Pymatuning Township.
He also allegedly threatened to shoot another woman in Hermitage earlier that same evening – Feb. 6, according to police.
Tuesday, Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas R. Dobson arraigned Hudson on charges by Pymatuning police of three counts of attempted murder, 13 counts of aggravated assault, burglary, possession of cocaine and possession with intent to deliver, two counts of prohibited possession of a firearm and two counts of aggravated assault on policemen, plus Hermitage police charges of unlawful restraint, making terroristic threats, simple assault, carrying a firearm without a license, prohibited possession of a firearm and reckless endangerment.
From the time Hudson entered the courtroom in his orange jumpsuit and shackles, he rarely turned his eyes from his family, including his mother, Deborah Kelly of Youngstown, and his 17-year-old brother.
“I want people to know my son’s not a monster,” Kelly said. “Jessi’s very quiet and respectful and keeps to himself – he’s a kind-hearted person.”
Hudson and his brother, Devon, both live with Kelly. A single mother, she said her father, who passed away in 2010, helped her raise the two boys.
“He was raised right,” Kelly said. “Everyone that knows him was shocked when they saw it on the news and in the paper.”
Kelly said she thinks her son took a street drug called “molly” that night. “This was an isolated incident. My son if he was in his right mind never would’ve done this.”
Chemicals mixed into the illegal drug “molly” act as a stimulant and psychedelic, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The drug could cause long-term, maybe permanent problems with memory and learning. Side effects such as confusion, anxiety, depression and paranoia last four to six hours, but may occur or last weeks after ingestion, according to the DEA.
“It is irrelevant if he was on something,” said Stanley T. Booker, Hudson’s attorney. Drug use “is not a legal defense to his charges.”
Kelly claimed that her son did not know Amanda Bell, the woman he allegedly shot in the back during the home invasion.
“I feel bad for the woman, I’m sorry my son did that,” Kelly said. “He is ashamed of the situation.”
Kelly said her son did know the woman who was with him as he drove from Youngstown to Hermitage that night and whom he allegedly threatened.
That woman was Elexis Henry, 19, of Youngstown, Kelly’s goddaughter. Henry attended Hudson’s preliminary hearing before District Judge Brian Arthur in Greenville on Feb. 12 to ask that the Hermitage police charges be dropped, Kelly said.
Those charges stem from Hudson allegedly forcing Henry to take a substance suspected of being a harmful drug, pulling out a loaded gun and threatening to kill her a few minutes before the alleged break-in at the Bell home.
Elexis “was scared because she had never seen him like that – she was trying to calm him down,” Kelly said.
Henry’s request was never heard because Hudson’s former court-appointed attorney had him waive all the charges to common pleas court.
Booker said he would not have waived the charges, explaining that in a case this serious he would have wanted to have testimony entered into the official record.
He also questioned the basis for Arthur increasing Hudson’s bond to $400,000, but would not elaborate on his plans for the case.