Grand Jury decides not to indict on murder charge
Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless announced today that a Grand Jury hearing evidence of the December 4, 2011 shooting death of 23 year old Nikolas S. Carnute on Wellington Avenue in Pittsfield found no probable cause to charge 25 year old KURT H. HUDSON with murder. Determining that HUDSON acted in self-defense, the Grand Jury returned a no-bill on the murder charge but charged HUDSON with FELON IN POSSESSION OF A FIREARM, which carries a minimum three-year state prison sentence and a maximum penalty of fifteen years. 22 year old JAMEL L. NICHOLSON of Pittsfield was also charged with INTERFERING WITH A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION, for providing misleading information to investigators.
Capeless stated, “In an effort to balance the necessary secrecy of Grand Jury proceedings with my responsibility to make the public aware of the circumstances underlying the Grand Jury’s decision, it is important for the community to understand that the investigation conducted by the Pittsfield Police Department, assisted by the Massachusetts State Police Berkshire Detective Unit, was thorough, fair and exemplary in the quest for determining what occurred that evening. This diligence persevered despite being hampered by witnesses that were variously reluctant, uncooperative, misleading and even obstructionist.”
Capeless added, “It is my legal, ethical and moral obligation to present all material and relevant information, whether inculpatory or exculpatory, that my Office possesses when presenting a matter to the Grand Jury. This case was no exception to that fundamental principal. Ultimately, it is for the Grand Jury to determine, in light of all of the information presented, what charges are appropriate, if any,”
According to Capeless, after hearing from eleven witnesses over two days of testimony, the Grand Jury determined that Carnute threatened HUDSON with a drawn gun while HUDSON sat in the driver’s seat of a car parked in a Wellington Avenue driveway. Fearing for his life, HUDSON quickly backed the car out of the driveway and drove in reverse down the street. Still threatened by Carnute with the gun, HUDSON fired two shots from the car while driving backwards. One shot hit Carnute in the head and killed him. HUDSON fled the scene and was later arrested in South Carolina. The gun that Carnute used was not recovered; police investigators believe it was taken from the scene immediately after the shooting by one of Carnute’s associates.
In the Commonwealth, the law of self-defense requires that one take reasonable means to escape imminent violence but that, when escape proves unavailing, reasonable means, including similar violence, can be taken to protect one’s self. The principle of self-defense is not available to an initial aggressor or to those engaged in mutual combat, however.
Capeless concluded, “We are once again reminded by this episode that the criminal culture that promotes the carrying of firearms only fosters increased violence and death, and, whether it threatens law-abiding citizens or criminal perpetrators, that violence will not be tolerated by those of us in law enforcement. We will diligently and fairly investigate these acts of senseless violence, and will endeavor to overcome any obstacles put in our path in order to determine the truth and to seek justice. Street justice is not justice, only violence by another name; the law of our Commonwealth is justice, and I will take all steps to see that it is fulfilled.”