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January 12, 2023

Philly woman freed after mistaken identity landed her in jail on Texas warrant

Julie Hudson, 31, spent a week behind bars as a wrongly accused suspect in a robbery case more than 1,500 miles away

Investigations Police
Julie Hudson Arrest Innocent Texas Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Julie Hudson, 31, of Philadelphia, was jailed for seven nights due to a case of mistaken identity by authorities in Webster, Texas, where she was falsely named a suspect in a robbery last May. She was arrested by Philly police on an active warrant in Texas. The charges have been dropped and she was released Thursday.

An innocent Philadelphia woman, with no criminal past, was released from jail Thursday after authorities determined she was mistakenly identified as a suspect in a robbery and assault case in Texas.

Julie Hudson, a 31-year-old Ph.D. student in Philadelphia, walked free Thursday after spending seven nights behind bars at a city prison in Holmesburg. She was accused of being involved in a crime last May at a sporting goods store in Webster, Texas — about 25 miles southeast of Houston. 

Media reports that Hudson's identity had been mistaken began surfacing in Houston this week as her family advocated for her release from jail.

Charon Hudson, Julie's sister, told news outlets that Julie recently had been applying for jobs in the Philly area and was getting turned down because employers were seeing she had a warrant out for her arrest in Texas.

To clear her name, Hudson went to the 14th District headquarters of the Philadelphia police in Germantown last Wednesday. Police there took her into custody based on the active arrest warrant from Texas, where she was considered a fugitive of justice.

"Julie went down to our local police department in Philadelphia thinking, ‘I’ll get to the bottom of it in person,’" Charon Hudson told Click2Houston. "And when she went there, of course, if you have a warrant out for your arrest, they have to arrest you."

Hudson spent seven nights in jail as her family worked to clear up the mistake made by authorities in Webster.

Jeremy Edge, assistant chief of the Webster Police Department, explained to Click2Houston that Hudson's name was connected to the May crime by another suspect who was arrested in the robbery case. Webster police had reviewed surveillance video to identify the suspect who was arrested first.

"We were able to detain one of the people who matched one of the suspects in the video, she agreed to an interview, brought her back, and in the interview, she identified the other person as her sister by the name of Julie Hudson," Edge said.

Webster police compared surveillance video images of the second suspect to photos of Julie Hudson that they found on social media. Edge said multiple people in the Webster Police Department and Harris County District Attorney's Office believed the Julie Hudson they found in Philadelphia was the suspect in the robbery video.

After her arrest in Philadelphia, Julie's family was able to prove that she had been at work in Pennsylvania at the time of robbery last May.

Philadelphia police said the arrest warrant for Hudson was dismissed by authorities in Webster around 5 p.m. on Wednesday. The police department immediately requested that the Department of Prisons process Hudson's release as quickly as possible.

"The PPD has opened an investigation into when communication was sent from the issuing jurisdiction stating that charges were dismissed," a police spokesperson said Thursday.

Julie's family members told Click2Houston they are considering pursuing legal action against Webster Police.

The Webster Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday afternoon, but the Harris County District Attorney's Office said it took swift action to get Hudson released. Hudson remained in jail for nearly two days after it was determined she wasn't a suspect. 

"We accept charges based on the sworn evidence presented to us by law enforcement," a spokesperson for the D.A.'s office said. "Tuesday, Webster Police notified the court of the error. We dismissed the case within five minutes and immediately contacted Philadelphia Police to release our hold on Ms. Hudson."

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office only became aware of Hudson's situation on Wednesday evening, after reading about it in news reports.

"I am not aware of any efforts by Texas authorities to contact my office directly about the misidentification of Ms. Hudson, which led to her arrest by Philadelphia Police ... based on a fugitive warrant," Krasner said. "Once the District Attorney’s Office independently became aware that Webster Police had confirmed to local media that they had wrongly sought Ms. Hudson for arrest, we mobilized quickly to make sure Ms. Hudson was released from custody as soon as possible."

Krasner added that Hudson is a student who didn't deserve to go through this experience. Charon Hudson told Click2Houston that her sister was unable to take multiple medications while she was jail.

"What happened to her should not have happened, and her family deserves a great deal of credit for successfully advocating for her freedom with the media in Houston and in Philadelphia," Krasner said.

Mayor Jim Kenney commended the response by authorities in Philadelphia to release Hudson as soon as possible after learning the charges against her had been dismissed.

"We are dismayed by the ordeal that she and her family went through due to an erroneous warrant from another jurisdiction, and thankful that she is now home," Kenney said.