Three sentenced in manslaughter

Published 11:27 pm Friday, October 19, 2018

Three Suffolk men who set up a botched robbery that killed their friend pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other charges and were sentenced to six years to serve earlier this month.

Justin S. Fransee, Anthony R. Hale and Joshua J. Williams pleaded guilty on Oct. 9. They were charged in the death of 26-year-old Brandon Hudgins on June 30, 2017.

According to a stipulation of facts filed in Suffolk Circuit Court, Fransee, Hale, Williams and Hudgins decided they wanted to rob someone to get some money. It was decided that Fransee and Williams would set up the deal, and Hale and Hudgins would carry out the robbery.

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Fransee, according to the documents, called a minor and offered to sell him a large quantity of Xanax. Fransee put Williams on the phone, and Williams pretended to be the supplier. They agreed to a deal involving about $800 worth of Xanax, according to the court document.

After the deal was arranged, Hale and Hudgins changed into dark-colored clothing, left armed with guns and awaited the victim’s arrival.

Meanwhile, the target drove to meet Hale and Hudgins but became suspicious and picked up someone else on the way. When they arrived, Williams got into the backseat and told the target to head down the street a little way. When he did, Hudgins and Hale appeared, drew their weapons and told the victims to “give it up.”

The other person picked up by the target started to get out of the car when he was threatened by Hudgins and Hale, the court document stated. He drew his own firearm and shot at both Hudgins and Hale.

Hale was shot multiple times and was airlifted to a local hospital. Hudgins was shot once in the chest and died near the scene. Neither the original target nor the other person he picked up was injured.

The shooting happened near the intersection of Culloden and Gloucester streets.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas Shaia said the weapon used by the other person the target picked up was not recovered, and the bullet that killed Hudgins was not matched to any weapon that was recovered. Therefore, it is assumed that Hudgins was killed by the shots fired by the person the target picked up, who was not charged.

Fransee, Hale and Williams each was charged with involuntary manslaughter, robbery, conspiracy, attempted robbery, and two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Fransee and Williams also were charged with solicitation of a minor to commit a felony.

Hale also was charged with wearing a mask in public, possession of burglary tools and brandishing a firearm.

Pursuant to a plea agreement, they each pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, attempted robbery, conspiracy and one count of use of a firearm in commission of a felony. The remaining charges were not prosecuted.

Each received an active term of six years in prison with 23 years of suspended time.