Chellbie Hudson on Monday described the events from the night of June 22, 2018, through the afternoon of June 23, 2018, after her then-boyfriend William Ellis Bowen IV asked her to leave during a fight.
Chellbie Hudson was the first witness to testify Monday in the trial for 34-year-old Bowen, of Rand, and she said that by the time Bowen let her back in a room the couple was renting in a trailer in St. Albans, her 8-month-old daughter, Lillyann Aburiana Hudson, was barely breathing and moved with “dead weight.”
“I watched as my son tried to wake up my daughter,” Hudson said. “He was going ‘Come on, sissy. Wake up sissy.’ ... There was no breathing. There was no reaction. There was nothing. Just dead weight.”
Bowen is charged with murder of a child by refusal and failure to supply necessities and one count of death of a child by parent, guardian, or custodian or other person by child abuse.
Bowen originally only was charged the death of a child by child abuse, but a Kanawha grand jury last week handed up a superseding indictment against Bowen, adding the murder charge.
Bowen was arraigned on the new charges Monday morning before his trial began. He pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Kanawha Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Miller and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Adam Petry said Bowen was the only person alone with Lillyann during the period in which she suffered fatal head injuries. They also said Hudson was too scared of Bowen to try to get back in the couple’s room to check on her daughter.
Bowen’s attorney, Ed Bullman, said there were other people at the trailer with Lillyann that day, including one point when Bowen and Hudson briefly left the home, leaving open the possibility that Bowen wasn’t the person who caused Lillyann’s injuries and subsequent death.
Three people testified in the trial Monday, with a fourth set to testify Tuesday morning, when prosecutors are expected to rest their case. The case is expected to be in jurors’ hands Tuesday.
In August, Chellbie Hudson, 24, pleaded guilty to child neglect resulting in death as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. One of the conditions of her plea deal was that she testify in Bowen’s trial.
The sentence for child neglect resulting in death is between three and 15 years in prison, plus between $1,000 and $5,000 in fines.
West Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Allen Mock on Monday testified that Lillyann Hudson died of blunt force trauma to her head, according to the autopsy he performed in June 2018.
He said Lillyann Hudson had bruises on her head, especially on her forehead and around her left eye.
During her hour of testimony, Chellbie Hudson said she and Bowen rented a room in the trailer along Buckeye Lane in St. Albans beginning in about April 2018.
At about 11 p.m. on June 22, 2018, Bowen asked Chellbie Hudson to leave their room after he didn’t approve of how she was cutting his hair, Hudson testified.
Hudson said she left after taking about three hours to pack up her things and leave the room, but she stayed in the trailer, with an exception of about 30 minutes when she left to get cigarettes.
Hudson said she last heard her daughter at about 7:30 a.m. on June 23, 2018, when she cried. Hudson said it sounded like Lillyann was hungry, and Bowen fed the baby.
Hudson said she left the trailer later that morning to try to sell scrap metal to get money for formula, but she was too late getting to the metal yard.
Instead, she said she went to Kmart and shoplifted a set of hair clippers then went to a Kroger to shoplift formula for her daughter.
Hudson, Bowen and a couple of other people left the trailer just before 1 p.m. to haul trash to a dumpster.
When they got home, around 1:15 p.m., was when Chellbie Hudson said she was able to get back into the room and found her daughter unresponsive.
Kanawha Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Powell testified that he was dispatched to the trailer at about 2:13 p.m., and he was the first person to arrive on the scene.
Inside the trailer Powell said he saw a woman giving breaths to Lillyann Hudson on a kitchen table while three people, Bowen, Chellbie Hudson and another woman argued in a bedroom.
He said Chellbie Hudson had a knife, and the trio appeared to be arguing about getting care for the baby.
By the time Powell calmed the fight and cleared the bedroom, he said paramedics had taken Lillyann Hudson from the home and loaded her into an ambulance.
Kanawha Sheriff’s Detective J.A. Payne later testified paramedics had taken Lillyann to Charleston Area Medical Center Women and Children’s Hospital within 15 minutes of arriving at the trailer. Paramedics told the deputies the baby was in “serious condition.”
Lillyann Hudson died June 25, 2018.
The trial is set to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Kanawha Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit is presiding.
Hudson and Bowen are incarcerated at South Central Regional Jail.