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Texas Police Used Social Media Photos to Issue Arrest Warrant for Robbery Suspect. A Philly Ph.D. Student with a Similar Name Spent a Week In Jail Before Realizing They Had the Wrong Woman.

The Texas District Attorney’s Office has dismissed charges against a Philadelphia woman wrongfully arrested for a robbery they acknowledge she did not commit. The Ph.D. student was held in police custody for a week, even though she and her family could not only prove she was innocent of the crime but that she never traveled to the Lone Star State in her life.

She was released to her family on Wednesday, Jan. 11.

Philadelphia PHD student wrongly arrested for robbery
PH.D. student Julie Hudson (left) was mistaken for a robbery suspect with a similar name (right). (Screenshot Click2Houston)

The nightmare started on Thursday, Jan. 5. Julie Hudson had applied for a job and was informed that she had an outstanding arrest warrant in her name. She was shocked to find out she had any type of criminal record and realized she was being turned down for multiple jobs because of this blemish.

“Everybody is sure that you did something, that you’re [a] criminal, but you know that that’s not who you are,” Hudson said.

The 31-year-old figured she would go to the Philadelphia Police 14th district in Germantown to clear up the discrepancy and continue on her employment quest.

However, that was not the case, according to her sister, Charon Hudson. Julie Hudson was arrested for a petty robbery she was believed to have committed in Webster, Texas, in May 2022.

Charon Hudson said to CBS 3 News, “My sister went there like, ‘Hey, what’s going on, we need to fix the situation. What do we need me to do? What do you need me to give you?’ And at that point, Philadelphia was like, ‘We have to arrest you because Texas has warrants out for you.’”

“She has never been in the state of Texas,” the sister added to give context to how bizarre the arrest seems to the family, “Julie hasn’t caught a plane in years.”

Hudson was immediately taken into custody and placed in a Philadelphia jail on State Road near the Holmesburg section of the city.

The family reached out to the Texas police to inform them they had the wrong person.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office in Texas filed a motion on Tuesday, Jan. 10, to drop the charges against the graduate student, citing insufficient evidence. 

After law enforcement did their due diligence — discovering that Hudson was at work in Philadelphia when the robbery happened in suburban Houston — Webster, Texas, police admitted she is not the woman they are seeking. The person they are looking for is seen in a screenshot from a surveillance camera. While the suspect was Black and female, the person was not the doctoral candidate.

A representative for the HCDAO wrote in a statement, “We accept charges based on the sworn evidence presented to us by law enforcement. 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.”

Police believed the person who is actually the suspect has a similar name to the Philadelphian.

Jeremy Edge, assistant chief of the Webster Police Department, said to Click2Houston, “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.” 

Detectives investigating the case canvassed social media and found one of Julie Hudson’s photos on Instagram that in their opinion seemed close enough a resemblance to the suspect in the surveillance video to pin the crime on her and issue a warrant.

The Webster police chief said he released paperwork to PPD on Tuesday. But despite the charges being dropped, the Philadelphia Police Department did not begin to act to release Hudson until the next day when reporters inquired about the jailed woman.

“PPD became aware of the warrant being dismissed on 1/11/23 at approximately 5 p.m. after receiving a media inquiry,” a Philadelphia police said in a statement to NBC 10. “At that time, we immediately requested that Ms. Hudson be released from custody and are actively working with the Philadelphia Department of Prisons to process her release in as expeditious a manner as possible.” 

Her sister called the scenario “tragic,” and says it has not only impacted Julie but the entire family.

“You’re presumed innocent until you are proven guilty. In this case, I’m learning is pretty much you’re guilty until you prove yourself innocent,” said Hudson’s brother Tiron Hudson.

Though the woman was released, the family says her record still is not clean and their loved one suffered personal damages throughout the experience. Additionally, the family is considering legal action, particularly because she was incarcerated without her medicine for almost a week.

Hudson is glad she is freed, but said, “When you know that you didn’t do anything wrong, it makes you feel crazy,” and grateful for her family’s support.

Charon credits public outcry, specifically the media, for her sister being freed, saying, “If it had not been for the media and the press, nobody would have taken the time to do what they did today.”

On Thursday, Jan. 12, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner released a statement regarding Hudson’s case, saying he only found out about the case on Wednesday night, “thanks in part to media reports” out of the two cities.

He further mentioned he was 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 on January 6 based on a fugitive warrant. 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. “

“Julie Hudson is a Philadelphia resident who has no criminal record and is pursuing a Ph.D. What happened to her should not have happened, and her family deserves a great deal of credit for successfully advocating for her freedom,” Krasner continued.

Krasner issued an apology to the family and said law enforcement should do the same.

Mayor Jim Kenney also commented, first commending the PPD, the DA, and the Prisons Department, and then saying, “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.” 

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