Kelly Ann Hudson of Kirkland pleaded "absolutely not guilty" Thursday to charges of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault in a fatal head-on crash along Juanita Drive that killed an 81-year-old woman.
In an unusual request, Hudson’s lawyer, Scott E. Wonder, asked and was allowed by Judge Ronald Kessler to shield Hudson’s face from media cameras with a thin sheet of Styrofoam during her arraignment in Seattle’s King County Superior Court.
Wonder said Hudson, who remains in King County Jail on $500,000 bond, was concerned that her three children would see her on television or in the newspaper. Wearing orange jail clothing, the thin, blond Hudson walked in with Wonder holding up the sheet of Styrofoam. She then stood before Kessler and said in a clear voice, “Absolutely not guilty,” when he asked for her plea.
Hudson is charged with one count of vehicular homicide and three counts of vehicular assault. She requested and was granted a postponement of her bail hearing, meaning she will remain in jail for the time being. Kessler set her next court date, a case-setting appearance, for Sept. 10.
Charging documents allege Hudson, a 42-year-old Finn Hill woman, was under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs coming the other way the night of Aug. 7.
Joyce Parsons, who lived just blocks away from Hudson on Finn Hill, was killed in the crash. Parsons' brother, 86-year-old Arthur Kamm of Bellevue, was at the wheel of the car hit and was critically injured in the crash. He remains in the hospital and has not yet regained full lucidity.
“He has no recollection of anything,” Kamm’s son, John Kamm of Bellevue, told reporters after the arraignment. “He has been in and out of our world due to the trauma.”
John Kamm said he was not sure if his father, who was an active, energetic man before the crash, realizes his sister was killed in the crash. “We’re not sure. He has been told repeatedly.”
Kamm described Parsons, his aunt, as “just a total loving, caring generous person. She didn’t deserve to die that way.”
Arthur Kamm, Parsons and two out-of-state relatives, Daniel and Jenny Grieshaber, 72 and 69 respectively, were en route to Parsons home after an evening excursion boat cruise and dinner on Lake Washington. The Grieshabers are out of the hospital but have not fully recovered from their injuries, said John Kamm.
Kamm described the family’s ordeal since the crash as “like being in a washing machine on spin cycle. It’s been very traumatic.”
Joyce Parsons' son, Keith Parsons of Newcastle, also attended the arraignment to--like John Kamm--see the suspect driver. They were surprised when the judge allowed Hudson’s attorney to shield her from the cameras.
“I wonder if she was embarrassed to show her face at her house when she was allegedly taking pharmaceuticals and drinking wine,” Kamm said.
Keith Parsons said he had been to his mother’s home on Finn Hill several times since the crash and that the experience has been difficult. “We’ve passed the scene a number of times. It’s hard for me to imagine how a normal person could ever let that happen.”
A simple white cross now marks the spot on Juanita Drive near 120th Street Northeast.
Attorney Wonder issued a statement on behalf of the Hudson family, saying “they are all very hurt and sorry for the Parsons family and are praying for them every day.”
Wonder said some inaccurate information on the crash had been reported, and cautioned reporters about jumping to conclusions.
“Our investigation has just started,” he said. “Our big concern is that Kelly gets a fair trial. This is a tragedy and we have to figure out what happened.”
Wonder noted that Hudson’s blood alcohol had been tested but that prosecutors have not yet released the results. He said he requested that he be allowed to shield Hudson’s face because she did not want her children to see her in that situation.
“She has three children in junior high and high school. They are with her family and with friends,” he said. “We can’t control what they see when they are with friends.”