Surprise No Contest Plea in Hoskins Case


YoloCourt-16By Tiffany Yeh

Susan Hoskins was charged with the premeditated murder of her husband in the first jury trial. The trial ended on October 26, 2015, with acquittals on first degree murder and second degree murder, and a hung jury of seven to five for the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Attorney J. Tony Serra was Hoskins’ main counsel, and defense lawyer Shannan Dugan was also part of the defense team. Another trial setting conference occurred in November of 2015, and a second trial was expected to occur in April 2016.

However, on February 26, 2016, an early disposition conference was held in which defense lawyer Shannan Dugan and DDAs Carolyn Palumbo and Jay Linden were present at the announcement of a stunning plea deal that had been negotiated by the two sides.

The defendant plead no contest to one charge of voluntary manslaughter (a three-year prison sentence) and no contest to an added enhancement for use of a firearm during the felony (a one-year prison sentence). The aggregate prison term is four years.

Ms. Hoskins will be referred from the Yolo County Probation Department to Sacramento County Probation for a pre-sentencing report to be made and an interview of Ms. Hoskins to occur. Sentencing will occur on May 10, 2016, at 9am.

The plea, as stated above, comes after a jury acquitted Ms. Hoskins on the more serious first and second degree murder charges, before deadlocking seven to five on manslaughter charges.

Susan Hoskins was charged with murder for the August 3, 2014, shooting death of her husband, Bryan Hoskins, Sr.,  in the kitchen of their Woodland home. They had been out riding motorcycles when a fight escalated into Mr. Hoskins calling her names and imploring her to shoot him.

DDA Palumbo acknowledged the emotional abuse, but argued that “he didn’t do anything that would justify dying.”

During her closing arguments, Ms. Palumbo acknowledged that Mr. Hoskins had caused Susan Hoskins emotional abuse, including name calling, but no sexual abuse. Essentially, he was not likable to some people, while she was likable, but he did not inflict sexual abuse or domestic violence.

She stated that Ms. Hoskins provided no assistance as she called for help, after she shot him. A small portion of the 911 tape was played, with the dispatcher asking why she shot him.

Ms. Hoskins answered, “Because he is an a— and kept calling me a whore.” The above line was played at least three or four times during the closing argument.

The DDA stated that Susan Hoskins had not shown fear or remorse and had not been in imminent danger. She was frustrated with Bryan Hoskins’ drinking and his accusing her of cheating.

When asked during an interview if she had intended to kill her husband, she replied, “I don’t know.”

Famed Defense Attorney J. Tony Serra delivered closing arguments, emphasizing that Ms. Hoskins had a stellar reputation among her peers. She has been lauded by her supervising doctors and described by her coworkers as a loving, honest and compassionate woman. A nurse by occupation, the core attribute of her job was to help others, those who are suffering, damaged and in pain.

Bryan Hoskins’ reputation, on the other hand, was a tainted one. His employees have described him as a control freak and a bully with an acid tongue. Based on his peers’ accounts, Serra suggested that Bryan dominated, oppressed, manipulated and intimidated others, and that he alienated his employees.

Serra followed up, saying, “My client is a better woman. Abuse, coercive control is one of the greatest damnations that a woman can experience.”

He argued that Ms. Hoskins had a secret deeply hidden within her. The secret was that she was a battered woman. She never reported it to authorities or talked about it with anybody.


About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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One thought on “Surprise No Contest Plea in Hoskins Case”

  1. Miwok

    Poor drug dealers have an advocate in the Vanguard, but when it comes to DV, the system and the Vanguard says: Oh well?

    They charged her with three different charges? Isn’t that the favorite thing for The Vanguard to complain about? Over charging?

    Is there such a thing as “justified Homicide”? In Texas “he needed killin” is a proper defense…

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