Sabine County man accused in baby death agrees to 7-year plea deal

Matthew Hudson (Source: Sabine County Jail)
Matthew Hudson (Source: Sabine County Jail)
Sophia Candanosa (Source:
Sophia Candanosa (Source:

HEMPHILL, TX (KTRE) - A Pineland man previously charged with capital murder and facing life in prison if convicted has accepted a seven-year deal in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser charge.

Sabine County District Attorney Kevin Dutton said Matthew Bubba Hudson, 27, entered the plea on Friday.

Hudson was originally arrested and charged with first-degree murder in December of 2014, He was accused in the death of his girlfriend's 5-month-old daughter. He was then re-indicted in February on a charge of capital murder.

According to an arrest affidavit, a Sabine County Sheriff's deputy was contacted by a Child Protective Services investigator on Nov. 7, 2014, in reference to a 5-month-old baby girl that had been airlifted from the Sabine County Hospital to Texas Children's Hospital, where she died less than 48 hours later.

When the deputy went to the Sabine County Hospital, a doctor told him that a CT scan of the child had shown "some possible brain trauma."

Then the deputy spoke to Sophia's mother, who said that Hudson took her to work at about 5:55 a.m. that morning. She said that her daughter was fine when Hudson dropped her off at work.

In addition, the baby's mother told the deputy that she had taken Sophia to the Sabine Family Medicine a couple of weeks before her baby wound up in the hospital. She also took her daughter to Complete Healthcare Services in Jasper a few days before Nov. 7, 2014 for treatment of a cough.

Hudson told the deputy that after he dropped his girlfriend off at work, he went back home to a residence in the 300 block of Westwood Loop in Hemphill with Sophia, according to the affidavit. Hudson allegedly left Sophia in the car seat until she began to get fussy, and he moved her closer to him.

According to the affidavit, Hudson took Sophia out of the car seat and changed her dirty diaper. He told the deputy that he lay the baby on her back and started to give her a bottle of formula. When Sophia started to get sleepy, Hudson laid her on her back in his bed and started giving her the baby formula again.

Hudson told the deputy that Sophia started bubbling milk out of her mouth, and he wiped her mouth before trying again with the formula. This time, Sophia bubbled the milk again and coughed, according to the affidavit. When Hudson noticed that Sophia was unresponsive, he allegedly shook her in an effort to get a response.

After Hudson woke up the three other people who were at the house, all three of them came running to help, and one of them started doing CPR on the baby and kept doing it until the first responders from the Fairmont Volunteer Fire Department arrived on the scene, the affidavit stated.

Hudson told a second SCSO deputy who came to assist at the hospital the same version of the story, according to the affidavit.

The second deputy went with Hudson to his home. According to the affidavit, the deputy noticed that there was no working light in the bedroom where Hudson had taken Sophia to feed her. When asked about the lack of a working light, Hudson allegedly told the deputy that he used the light on his cell phone.

The affidavit stated that the deputy did not see any sign of aspiration on the bed, the living room, or on the floors of the residence.

On Nov. 10, 2014, Hudson met with a Sabine County deputy, a Texas Ranger, and CPS workers in Hemphill. During the interview, he gave almost the same version of what he had earlier said had happened. However, this time, he told authorities that after Sophia started getting fussy, he took her out of the car seat and started tickling her and making her laugh, according to the affidavit.

In addition, Hudson allegedly started tossing Sophia in the air and catching her to make her laugh.

Later, after Hudson talked to authorities about Sophia bubbling up the milk and coughing before becoming unresponsive, he said that he didn't remember how many times he shook the baby or how hard, according the affidavit.

When the Texas Ranger asked Hudson who he thought was responsible for Sophia's death, Hudson allegedly said that he believed he was.

In a February interview, Dutton said the grand jury came back with the capital murder indictment after Dutton saw new evidence.

Dutton said in February his office was getting ready to take the case to trial, and they met with the medical examiner. At that time, the medical examiner showed them the photos.

"We determined that the grand jury needed to hear new evidence, and then they indicted him for capital murder," Dutton said in February.

Dutton said on Monday that he agreed to the plea deal because he was concerned a jury would not convict Hudson on murder charges.

"We just couldn't prove he intentionally did anything to harm the child," Dutton said.

Dutton said Sophia's mother, who has a baby with Hudson, OK'd the deal. He said Sophia's father did not approve of the plea deal.

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