Burglary arrest for Fresno father who won $8.5 verdict

April 9, 2013 12:11:13 AM PDT
There's a strange new twist in the sad case of Seth Ireland. The murdered boy's father is in jail, less than two months after winning an $8.5 million verdict against Fresno County over the death of his son.

Joe Hudson was arrested on burglary charges Friday, and his attorney tells us Hudson's mental state is not good.

Police arrested Hudson for allegedly breaking into an attached garage in North Fresno and trying to steal from a recycling trash can. It's a minor case, according to investigators, but it could have major ramifications.

The last we saw Joe Hudson, he was hugging his attorney and celebrating a bittersweet win. Jurors awarded him a big piece of an $8.5 million verdict in a lawsuit against Fresno County. He blamed CPS for missing signs of abuse to his son, Seth Ireland, and leaving the boy in the home where Lebaron Vaughn kicked and beat him to death four years ago. A sadness crept into Hudson's voice as he recalled the reason he'd just won millions.

"I mean, it's something you live with the rest of your life," Hudson told us on Feb. 21. "I mean, it shouldn't have happened. It should not have happened. CPS failed."

The latest picture of Hudson is far less flattering -- a mugshot from the Fresno County jail. The 54-year-old now stands accused of residential burglary. Police say he was trying to get just a few dollars' worth of recyclable material from a stranger's home. It's a strange and sad new chapter to an already unusual situation.

"What happened in this case is not something that normally happens to a plaintiff," said ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi. "A plaintiff -- after collecting a million dollar verdict, or an $8 million verdict -- doesn't normally go out and commit a burglary or be accused of committing a burglary."

Capozzi says it can often take years to collect on a civil judgment, and Hudson probably wasn't going to get anywhere near the full amount. But he was still likely going to be a millionaire in the near future. Capozzi says the arrest might change that.

"That could be a factor in whether or not a new trial is granted," Capozzi said. "It could be a factor in whether or not the judge will reduce the $8.5 million verdict."

In fact, the county had already asked a judge to throw out the verdict from Hudson's lawsuit. They're due in court on that request next week, but for now, Hudson is stuck in jail.


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