ANDERSON — Kayla Hudson’s face became red, splotchy and tear-stained as she sat crying in the jury box before her sentencing on Tuesday. She seldom moved to wipe away the tears as she whispered back and forth with her attorney.
Hudson, 26, of Chesterfield, received a combined sentence of 40 years in the Department of Correction by Madison Circuit Court Division 4 Judge David Happe after pleading guilty to Level 1 felony neglect of a dependent resulting in death and Level 3 felony neglect of a dependent resulting in serious injury.
She was facing a possible prison sentence of 20 to 40 years on the Level 1 felony and a sentence of 3 to 16 years on the Level 3 charge after her 23-month-old daughter Paisley Hudson died in July from a blow to her head and two lacerations to her liver that caused internal bleeding.
Her 3-year-old son, Riley Hudson, was taken into protective custody after showing signs that he had been abused.
Hudson’s boyfriend, Ryan Ramirez, 29, of Chesterfield, is charged with the murder of Paisley and Level 3 felony neglect of a dependent causing serious injury to Riley.
Ramirez’s jury trial is scheduled before Happe at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 9.
Several witnesses testified Tuesday that they had questioned Hudson about unusual injuries on Paisley and Riley. Hudson had an explanation for each bump, bruise and broken bone.
Before she was sentenced, Hudson’s attorney, Paul Podlejski, said his client would testify in her case. Several people in the courtroom, including investigators with the Anderson Police Department, leaned forward straining to hear her testimony.
Hudson admitted that she knew the man she was living with was abusing her children.
She also admitted that she did nothing to save her daughter from being beaten to death and has lied repeatedly to the police about the abuse her children suffered.
Madison County Deputy Prosecutor Mary Hutchison pressed Hudson during cross-examination saying Hudson did not merely overlook the horrific abuse of her children that resulted in Paisley’s death, she allowed it to continue and even tried to cover it up.
“Correct,” Hudson said.
Three people in the courtroom identified themselves as being present on behalf of Hudson. The rest – about two dozen – attended in support of her prosecution.
Podlejski said Hudson grew up in a broken home and witnessed violence and abuse as a child.
Jacquie Sellers-Womack, a therapist at the Madison County Jail, testified on Hudson’s behalf. She said Hudson was raised by her grandparents and was never nurtured as a child.
“All she really wanted was a family,” she said.
Sellers-Womack said Hudson allowed her boyfriend to abuse her children because she wanted to have a family with him. She said Hudson admitted her neglect and now plans to go to prison and help other women.
Hudson said she wants to become a counselor while she serves her time and participate in the prison’s dog training program.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Hudson read two separate letters. One was addressed to Riley, who she has given up custody so his foster family can adopt him, and one was addressed to Paisley. In both of the letters she talked about her love for them and how she had failed them by not walking away from the man who was abusing them.
“This is a tragic case,” Happe said before he sentenced Hudson to 31 years in the DOC for Level 1 felony neglect of a dependent resulting in death and 9 years in the DOC for Level 3 felony neglect of a dependent resulting in serious injury.
Hudson said she will file an appeal.
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