Location: Nacogdoches, Texas
Ellis Hutson Sr., 50, was a truck driver who was killed by Constable Travis Helpenstill in Nacogdoches, Texas, in 1948.
Hutson’s son, Ellis Jr., had been beaten and arrested, so he went to the county courthouse to pay his son’s bail.
Helpenstill, enraged that Ellis Jr. had refused to plead guilty and sought to be bailed, shot Hutson Sr. three times in the chest in a courthouse corridor.
A state trial jury acquitted the constable.
A federal trial court accepted a nolo contendere plea, in which Helpen refused to accept or deny responsibility for the charges, and he was sentenced to 90 days, suspended.
For more information, search CRRJ’s archive.
Read more about Hutson’s death on the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive
About the Archive
The Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive houses case files and documents for more than 1,000 cases of racial homicides in the Jim Crow South. Co-founded by Melissa Nobles, professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Margaret Burnham, CRRJ director and professor of law at Northeastern, these uncovered stories highlight how violence affected lives, defined legal rights and shaped politics between 1930 and 1954.