Disclaimer: The Commission on Capital Cases receives this information from a variety of sources. The site will be updated consistently as information is received and will be audited bi-annually. We make every attempt to ensure the accuracy of the information provided; however, the information should be verified by the applicable court prior to using it for legal or statistical purposes.
|Last Name||First Name||Picture||DC Number||Agency||Case Summary|
|Date||Court||Case Number||Last Action|
|04/21/10||CC||01-17757||State's Reponse to 3.850 Motion|
|04/21/10||CC||01-17757||State's Reponse to 3.850 Motion|
|Last Name||First Name||City||Address||Zip||Phone|
|Attorney||Case Number||Judge||County||CCRC||Appt. Order||Contract Sign|
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 inmate’s case and should not be relied upon for statistical or legal purposes.
HUDSON, Russell (W/M)
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County Case #01-17757
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Paul Backman
Attorney, Trial: William T. Laswell – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Gary Lee Caldwell – 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 Peller’s .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, Hudson’s 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 Peller’s apartment on the evening of October 20, 2001. Jennifer Fizzuoglio, Peller’s 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, “Tell me what I want to hear, Lance.”
Hudson called someone on his cell phone and said, “Do I have to do this now? Somebody showed up.” 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: “Hi, Dad, it’s your son. I love you. I just want to tell you and Mom that I love you both much. I’m about to die. I love you both. Bye.”
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 Peller’s head, killing him almost instantly.
Hudson then put on latex gloves, searched the apartment, and handed Fizzuoglio items to carry. These items included Peller’s 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, “I’m sorry. I have to do this.” 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 Peller’s 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 Moreau’s 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 “on” position, and the battery was dead. The Mustang was identified as belonging to Fizzuoglio. Hudson’s 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 “Russell.” She also picked Hudson’s 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 Peller’s apartment. Hudson’s wallet contained Fizzuoglio’s driver’s license and Peller’s credit cards and driver’s license. Hudson had used one of Peller’s 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 Peller’s 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 Peller’s credit cards and the two driver’s licenses because he went to a club with Peller and Fizzuoglio several days before the murder. Drinks were spilled on the table where Peller’s wallet and Fizzuoglio’s driver’s 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 Peller’s 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 Peller’s apartment. There were no fingerprints found on the gun.
Prior Incarceration History in the State of Florida:
Prison Sentence Length
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 – Death
Count II: Kidnapping – Life
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal
992 So. 2d 96
04/19/06 Appeal filed
07/03/08 Appeal denied
10/13/08 Mandate issued
United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari
129 S. Ct. 1360
12/19/08 Petition filed
02/23/09 Petition denied
Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:
The defendant’s direct appeal was pending for more than two years.
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