The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly.  This information; however, is subject to change and may not reflect the latest status of an inmateís case and should not be relied upon for statistical or legal purposes. 

 

HUDSON, Russell (W/M)

DC# 181193

DOB: 08/04/69

 

≠≠≠Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County Case #01-17757

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Paul Backman

Attorney, Trial: William T. Laswell Ė Assistant Public Defender

Attorney, Direct Appeal: Gary Lee Caldwell Ė Assistant Public Defender

Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  TBA

 

Date of Offense: 10/20/01

Date of Sentence: 03/17/06

 

 

Circumstances of Offense:

 

Russell Hudson was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Lance Peller.

 

On August 29, 2001, Lance Peller reported to police that his apartment had been burglarized. One of the items reportedly stolen during the burglary was Pellerís .9-mm Smith and Wesson pistol.

 

In October of 2001, Russell Hudson was selling drugs for the dealer Felipe Mejia.  Mejia instructed Hudson to kill Lance Peller, a rival drug dealer who was underselling Mejia and with whom Hudson was well-acquainted. Mejia offered Hudson a gun. Hudson testified that he did not take the gun. However, Hudsonís roommate Jeff Stromoski testified that he saw Hudson with a gun in the apartment a few weeks before the murder. Stromoski also testified that the gun looked similar to the murder weapon.

 

Hudson went to Pellerís apartment on the evening of October 20, 2001. Jennifer Fizzuoglio, Pellerís girlfriend, arrived at the apartment after Hudson, between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m. She talked to Hudson while Peller talked on the phone. When Peller ended his phone call, Hudson stood up, crouched down in front of the coffee table, and pulled out a gun. Peller asked Hudson how he got his gun and Hudson replied, ďTell me what I want to hear, Lance.Ē

 

Hudson called someone on his cell phone and said, ďDo I have to do this now? Somebody showed up.Ē Hudson then decided to use some cocaine. He ordered Fizzuoglio to prepare the lines of cocaine and ordered both Fizzuoglio and Peller to also use cocaine. Hudson said there were people outside who would kill them all if he did not kill Peller. He repeatedly looked out the window and the door peephole, although Fizzuoglio never saw anyone outside.

 

Hudson told Peller and Fizzuoglio to hide. Peller went into the bathroom and sat on the floor. Fizzuoglio crouched in the kitchen, where her fingerprint was later found on the floor. Peller asked Hudson for a phone to call his father and say goodbye. Peller called his father at 9:13 p.m. and left the following message: ďHi, Dad, itís your son. I love you. I just want to tell you and Mom that I love you both much. Iím about to die. I love you both. Bye.Ē

 

After Peller finished the phone call, Hudson grabbed a blanket and shot Peller in the bathroom. Hudson shot Peller once through the blanket into the top of Pellerís head, killing him almost instantly.

 

Hudson then put on latex gloves, searched the apartment, and handed Fizzuoglio items to carry. These items included Pellerís wallet, keys, a scale, and several cell phones. Peller then forced Fizzuoglio out the door and into the passenger seat of her red Mustang. Hudson put the gun under his left leg and drove while Fizzuoglio was in the passenger seat. Hudson made a phone call as he drove west on 10th Street in Fort Lauderdale. After he concluded the call, he looked at Fizzuoglio and said, ďIím sorry. I have to do this.Ē Fizzuoglio then jumped out of the car as it was moving and ran across the street into a ditch. She saw a patrol car at a stop light. Fizzuoglio then jumped onto the hood of the car. The car was driven by Deputy Kim Bauer, who was on her way to work.

 

Deputy Bauer called for backup. Fizzuoglio was screaming that she had just seen her friend killed and that someone was trying to kill her, although she did not state who was involved. When she told the deputies she had taken cocaine, they believed she was overdosing and sent her to the hospital in an ambulance. Broward deputies eventually realized Fizzuoglio was telling the truth and she was later interviewed at the hospital.

 

Two teenage males who had previously purchased drugs from Peller arrived at Pellerís apartment at approximately 9:30 p.m. They were able to enter the apartment because the door was ajar. They went inside and found Peller lying against the wall. They then went through the apartment looking for drugs and left. One of the boys reported the murder by making an anonymous phone call to the police.

 

Around 11:00 p.m., Hudson called his friend Robert Moreau and asked to be picked up at a Dairy Queen in Pompano Beach. Moreau picked up Hudson at 11:15 p.m. and took him to Moreauís apartment where Hudson changed clothes.

 

On October 22, a deputy was dispatched to the First Presbyterian Church of Pompano Beach in reference to a red Mustang that had been left in the parking lot overnight.  The keys were in the ignition, still in the ďonĒ position, and the battery was dead. The Mustang was identified as belonging to Fizzuoglio. Hudsonís DNA was found on the steering wheel.

 

Fizzuoglio was interviewed several times after leaving the hospital. She eventually told detectives that the person who killed Peller was named ďRussell.Ē She also picked Hudsonís picture out of a photo lineup.

 

Hudson was arrested at 11:40 p.m. on October 21, when he arrived to pick up his black Nissan that was in the parking lot in front of Pellerís apartment. Hudsonís wallet contained Fizzuoglioís driverís license and Pellerís credit cards and driverís license. Hudson had used one of Pellerís credit cards at a gas station the morning after the murder. A .9-mm cartridge was found inside the vehicle.

 

After being taken into custody, Hudson told deputies that Mejia told him to kill Peller. He said that he refused to commit the murder and went to Pellerís apartment to warn him about Mejia. Fizzuoglio and Peller were having an argument. Peller asked Hudson to deliver some marijuana to Pompano Beach. He asked Fizzuoglio to take him, so that she could cool off from the argument, although he drove because she was too upset to drive. Fizzuoglio dropped him off and never returned.

 

Hudson also told the deputies that he had Pellerís credit cards and the two driverís licenses because he went to a club with Peller and Fizzuoglio several days before the murder. Drinks were spilled on the table where Pellerís wallet and Fizzuoglioís driverís license were lying. In the confusion Hudson picked up the items, put them in his pocket, and forgot to return them. He said he accidentally used Pellerís credit card at the gas station.

 

The murder weapon was found on July 20, 2002. A gardener found the handgun in a flower bed next to the same church where the Mustang was found. The serial number matched the gun stolen from Pellerís apartment. There were no fingerprints found on the gun.

 

 

 

Prior Incarceration History in the State of Florida:

 

 

Offense Date

Offense

Sentence Date

County

Case No.

Prison Sentence Length

02/19/87

Second-Degree Murder

08/10/87

Miami-Dade

87-8088

25 years

02/20/87

Grand Theft

08/10/87

Miami-Dade

87-8088

5 years

  

 

Trial Summary:

 

11/15/01          Indicted as follows:

                                    Count I:           First-Degree Murder

                                    Count II:         Kidnapping    

05/12/04          Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment

06/25/04          Jury recommended death by a vote of 7-5

03/17/06          Sentenced as follows:

                                    Count I:           First-Degree Murder Ė Death

                                    Count II:         Kidnapping Ė Life

 

 

Appeal Summary:

 

Florida Supreme Court Ė Direct Appeal

FSC# 06-748

992 So. 2d 96

 

04/19/06          Appeal filed

07/03/08          Appeal denied

10/13/08          Mandate issued

 

United States Supreme Court Ė Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC# 08-7918

129 S. Ct. 1360

 

12/19/08          Petition filed

02/23/09          Petition denied 

 

 

Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:

 

The defendantís direct appeal was pending for more than two years.

 

 

Case Information:

 

On 04/19/06, Hudson filed a direct appeal with the Florida State Supreme Court citing the following issues: Jury instructions, inappropriate application of HAC and CCP aggravators, hearsay testimony, constitutionality and proportionality of the death penalty, and insufficiency of evidence. The appeal was denied on 07/03/08.

 

On 12/19/08, Hudson filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. This petition was denied on 02/23/09.

 

 

Report Date:   07/10/08          KLH

Approved:       07/15/08          KLH

Updated:         04/15/09          KLH