Case of Tucson woman who died after being set afire goes to jury

2013-06-08T00:00:00Z 2013-06-08T15:24:56Z Case of Tucson woman who died after being set afire goes to juryPatrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 08, 2013 12:00 am  • 

After repeatedly violating a protective order a former friend took out against him, prosecutors told jurors in Anthony Lewis' murder trial, he doused the woman with gas and set her on fire.

Angela Hudson, 44, died five months later of complications due to the injuries she suffered in September 2008. She told the neighbor who helped extinguish the flames, and later the police, it was Lewis who set her ablaze.

But Lewis' attorney, Walter Palser, denied his client was at Hudson's home in the 1600 block of East Grant Road that day.

Further, Palser said Friday in his closing arguments at trial, Lewis' "low intellectual functioning" ability prevented him from planning such a crime or committing a premeditated murder.

Lewis is charged with first- and second-degree murder, assault with a deadly instrument and burglary.

Assistant Pima County Attorney Nicol Green told jurors Lewis was angry over being arrested for violating a restraining order Hudson had against him. "He had revenge on his mind; he had aggravation on his mind."

On the morning of the crime, Hudson ran to her next-door neighbor's house with her hair on fire. The neighbor pulled her into the shower and extinguished the flames, which had burned 35 percent of her upper body, including her face, shoulders and chest.

Green said Hudson filed a restraining order against Lewis in January 2008. Lewis almost immediately violated it and was arrested. He moved to Phoenix but returned in September 2008, when he was again arrested for violating the order. Hudson had also called police the day before she was set on fire to complain about a threatening phone message from Lewis.

Green used bank records of ATM withdrawals and purchases to trace Lewis' trip from his home on the south side, moving progressively north toward Hudson's home on the day of the attack. "It was premeditated and it was planned and he needs to be held accountable," she said. Lewis was captured in Washington state a month after the attack.

Palser said the trail of withdrawals and purchases proves nothing about the intent of his client. "The state draws this inference that he was going there to kill her," he said. "There's absolutely no proof that Anthony Lewis was in that house on September 22."

Jury deliberations will continue Tuesday.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at pmcnamara@azstarnet.com or 573-4241.

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