After Charles Hudspeth was hanged,
his presumed victim was found alive
George Watkins and his wife, Rebecca, moved in
1886 from Kansas to Marion County, Arkansas, where Rebecca apparently soon
became intimately involved with Charles Hudspeth. The following year,
Rebecca and Hudspeth were arrested and, after lengthy interrogation,
Rebecca allegedly made a statement accusing Hudspeth of murdering Watkins to
get him out of the way so they could be married.
Based on Rebecca’s testimony, Hudspeth was convicted and sentenced to
death, but the Arkansas Supreme Court set aside the conviction on the ground
that the trial judge, R. H. Powell, had improperly barred testimony
regarding Rebecca’s alleged lack of good character. Hudspeth v. State,
50 Ark. 534 (1888).
Upon retrial, Hudspeth was again convicted and again sentenced to death.
He was hanged at Harrison, Arkansas, on December 30, 1892, but in June 1893,
Hudspeth’s lawyer, W. F. Pace, located Watkins alive and well in Kansas.
This account was written by Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on
Wrongful Convictions. Permission is granted to reprint, quote, or post on
other web sites with appropriate attribution.
Last Modified: February 1, 2005