Location(s): Nacogdoches, Texas
On March 13, 1948, Ellis Hutson Sr. was shot and killed by Constable Travis Helpenstill at the Nacogdoches County Courthouse in Nacogdoches, Texas. On May 28, 1948, Helpenstill was indicted by a state grand jury for first-degree murder. On June 10, 1948, a jury acquitted him. Hutson Jr., with the help of the Dallas branch of the NAACP filed a civil suit in state court against Helpenstill, which resulted in a $500 settlement on June 14, 1949. On February 20, 1950, a federal grand jury indicted Helpenstill for the unlawful arrest and assault of Hutson Jr. which resulted in a nolo contendere plea for violating Hutson Jr.’s civil rights under 18 U.S.C. § 52. The court imposed a 90-day suspended sentence.
The collection includes: 18 U.S.C._51 Plea, Census records, Audio recorded interviews, news articles, Hutson’s Draft Card, Hutson’s Death Certificate, NAACP files, family photographs, Court records, and CRRJ student Georgi A. Vogel-Rosen’s essay, “The Murder of Ellis Hutson: A Legal Legacy.”