Killing of Ellis Hutson Sr. in Texas in 1948


Case summary

Ellis Hutson, Sr. (1898-1948), a truck driver, was killed by Constable Travis Helpenstill in Nacogdoches, Texas. Hutson’s son Ellis Jr. had been beaten and arrested. Hutson went to the county courthouse to pay his son’s bail. Helpenstill, enraged that Ellis Jr. refused to plead guilty and sought to be bailed out, shot Hutson Sr. three times in the chest in a courthouse corridor. State trial jury acquitted. Federal trial court accepted nolo contendere plea and sentenced Helpenstill to 90 days, suspended. An essay on this case, researched and authored by a CRRJ student, is available on request.


Alleged perpetrators/other named individuals:
Perpetrator group type: police

Date of incident: 1948-03-13
Location: Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches County, Texas
Location type: public space - urban
Allegation against victim: arguing with a police officer

Coroner process
Coroner/inquest: [ ]
Finding of no legal responsibility: [ ]

Criminal process
Arrest: yes
Charge/indictment/information: yes
Grand jury: yes
Trial: yes
Conviction: yes
Sentence: 90 days suspended

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