Man pleads guilty to killing sister

By Kathy Jefcoats

A man whose last known address was a Riverdale motel was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to killing his sister in 2002 during an apparent dispute over their mother's estate.

William Edward Houston, 53, was evaluated and found to have no mental illness, said Flint District Attorney Tommy Floyd. Rather than go forward with a trial, set for the week of Feb. 9, Houston changed his plea to guilty.

In court Wednesday, Houston admitted to shooting to death his sister, Joan Cushman, 55, an Eagle's Landing High School cafeteria worker. Cushman was found outside her McDonough home bleeding from a single gunshot to her chest.

She died less than an hour after being taken to Henry Medical Center.

Floyd said Houston had lived with his mother until she died. At that time, Cushman, executrix of the estate, decided to sell their mother's house. Floyd said Houston, who was unemployed, was upset because he would be homeless and have nowhere to go.

On Dec. 10, 2002, Houston caught up with Cushman who was running errands on her way home. He followed her home and fired several shots at her outside her garage.

Cushman was hit once in the chest with a .22-caliber rifle.

Days later, police identified Houston as the shooter and tried to arrest him. They found him at a rest stop in Gwinnett County where he shot himself, probably with the same rifle used to shoot his sister.

Houston recovered from his wound and was charged with murder.

Because the case did not meet the elements for the death penalty, Houston will become eligible for parole at some point during his life sentence.