OLATHE, Kan. -- Sueanne Hobson wanted her 13-year-old stepson killed by Christmas so she would not have to buy him presents, her natural son testified at her first-degree murder trial.
Mrs. Hobson, 39, of Overland Park, Kan., is charged with hiring and conspiring with her son James Crumm Jr. and his friend, Paul Sorrentino, to kill Christen Hobson.
Crumm, 18, testified against his mother Friday. He claimed he killed Christen at the insistence of his mother, whom he said once laced the boy's ice cream with Quaaludes in an attempt to eliminate Christen from her troubled household.
Crumm and Sorrentino, both 16 at the time of the slaying, are serving life sentences at the Kansas State Industrial Reformatory at Hutchinson. Sorrentino is expected to testify when the trial resumes at 9 a.m. Monday.
Crumm told the packed Johnson County courtroom that after he had failed in an earlier attempt to kill the boy, his mother angrily said 'she couldn't understand why I couldn't do just one little thing for her.'
'She said if I couldn't do this for her, then find someone who could,' Crumm said.
Mrs. Hobson sat passively throughout the long, rambling testimony of her son.
During the defense's cross examination, Crumm, whose eyes avoided his mother's during his three hours of testimony, told of his drug and alcohol abuse. Before and after his stepbrother's shotgun death, he took an average of 100-150 Valiums a day, Crumm admitted.
He said he started drinking when he was about 10 years old, and started stealing a couple years after that.
The defense contends it was Crumm who caused the family's problems, and it was Crumm who wanted Christen dead not his mother.
According to Crumm, his mother began talking about getting rid of Christen in early fall 1979 perhaps by committing him to a mental institution or sending him off to military school.
'She said she would like to get rid of him before the Christmas season so she wouldn't have to buy him any gifts,' Crumm said.
As family problems increased, Crumm said his mother would not stay in the same room with Christen.
Crumm said he sought the aid of Sorrentino for $350. He said his mother thought the fee was 'reasonable.'
Crumm said his mother chose April 17 as the night of the slaying, when Christen's father, Ed Hobson, would be at a union meeting. Crumm said he and Sorrentino picked up Christen at the Hobson home.
The three drove through some backroads in Miami County and stopped in a wooded dead end, he said. Sorrentino and Christen took turns digging the ditch and then Christen sat in the hole 'to try it on for size,' Crumm testified.
On the count of three, Sorrentino fired the first shot, Crumm followed with one, and Sorrentino added two more shots into the boy's body, Crumm testified.