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Carla Ann Hughes (born June 12, 1981)[1] is a former middle school teacher from Jackson, Mississippi, who was convicted of two counts of capital murder for the November 29, 2006 slayings of her lover's pregnant fiancee, Avis Banks, and Banks's unborn child.[2] She is serving two consecutive sentences of life without parole at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility near Pearl, Mississippi.[1]

Carla Hughes
Born
Carla Ann Hughes

(1981-06-12) June 12, 1981 (age 38)
OccupationTeacher
Criminal statusIncarcerated
Children1
Parent(s)Carl and Lynda Hughes
Conviction(s)Two counts of capital murder
Criminal penaltyLife without parole

Early life and educationEdit

Carla Hughes was born on June 12, 1981, and was adopted by her uncle Carl and aunt Lynda Hughes when she was six weeks old. She was raised in Greenville, Mississippi.[3] As a child, she excelled in horseback riding, beauty pageants and was an honors student.[4]

Hughes earned her Bachelor's degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in the early 2000s. She next earned her Master of Education degree from Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi. Hughes then began taking graduate coursework in education at Delta State University. At the time of her arrest, she was pursuing a doctorate in education.[5]

In 2004, she gave birth to a son.[3]

Hughes started out her teaching career at an elementary school but then took a job as a 7th grade language arts teacher at Chastain Middle School in Jackson, Mississippi. It was there where she met fellow schoolteacher and basketball coach Keyon Pittman, a graduate of Alcorn State University.[4] The two began having an intimate relationship. At the same time, Pittman had a live-in fiancee, Avis Banks, who was pregnant.[2][6][7]

Murder and InvestigationEdit

On the night of November 29, 2006, Avis Banks, a daycare worker, was found shot and stabbed to death in the garage of her Ridgeland, Mississippi home.[4] Her body was discovered by her fiance Keyon Pittman, and it appeared as if the perpetrator had kicked in their back door.[8] After discovering the body, Pittman called his co-worker Carla Hughes.[3]

Hughes was later interrogated by police, where she initially denied her sexual relationship with Pittman and later denied having access to a gun. However, Hughes's cousin indicated to police, via an attorney, that he had lent a loaded .38 caliber 5-shot revolver to Hughes shortly before the murder, and that she had returned the gun empty.[3] Hughes was originally charged with accessory to murder after the fact, but on December 8, 2006, the charges were upgraded to two counts of capital murder.[9]

TrialEdit

Carla Hughes' trial began in October 2009. Prosecutors believed that Hughes killed Avis Banks so she could be with Pittman. Pittman testified for the prosecution on October 6, 2009, stating to jurors how he found Avis Banks' body in their garage and talked about his relationship with Hughes.[8] In addition to Pittman's testimony, prosecutors were able to prove that Hughes' cousin's gun was the murder weapon[10][11][12] and that Hughes shoes were used to kick in the door.[8][13] Cell phone records also showed that Hughes was near Banks and Pittman's home at the time of the murder.[14]

Hughes' attorneys called Pittman a "bona fide womanizer" who did not want to be married with a child.[15][16][17] They claimed that he had worn Hughes' shoes during the murder, and he discounted testimony about how Hughes' cellphone records placed her at the crime scene, claiming that she had a friend in the area.[14]

On October 12, 2009, Hughes pled the fifth, deciding not to testify in her own defense. The case was then handed over to the jury.[18]

VerdictEdit

After eight hours of deliberation, Hughes's jury announced they had reached a verdict on October 13, 2009. Hughes was found guilty on both counts of capital murder.[3] Although Hughes could have faced the death penalty, she was instead sentenced to serve two consecutive life sentences without parole.[19][20][21][22]

AftermathEdit

On August 30, 2010, a Madison County judge denied Carla Hughes' request for a new trial.[23]

On June 21, 2012, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Madison County Circuit Court.[24][25][26] Six issues were raised on appeal, all of which were found to be without error.

MediaEdit

The Carla Hughes case and the murder of Avis Banks have been explored and re-enacted on several true-crime television shows that include Criminals at Work, Dateline NBC, Snapped, Forensic Files, Stolen Voices, Buried Secrets, Scorned: Love Kills, Fatal Attraction, A Wedding and a Murder, and Redrum (played by Melissa Joyner).

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Carla Hughes". Mdoc.state.ms.us. Archived from the original on March 23, 2012. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  2. ^ a b https://web.archive.org/web/20111001142752/http://www.wapt.com/r/21275971/detail.html. Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e "Deadly Affair". Msnbc.com. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Mississippi teacher gets life for killing lover's pregnant fiancee". Articles.cnn.com. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  5. ^ Jimmie E. Gates (October 14, 2009). "News - The Clarion-Ledger - clarionledger.com". The Clarion-Ledger. Retrieved September 15, 2015. (subscription required)
  6. ^ "Jackson School Teacher Charged in Pregnant Woman's Murder". WLBT. December 7, 2006. Archived from the original on July 8, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  7. ^ "Man testifies he did not kill his pregnant fiancee - Picayune Item". Picayune Item. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c https://web.archive.org/web/20111001142832/http://www.wapt.com/r/21228451/detail.html. Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ [1] Archived October 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Cousin testifies he gave gun to Carla Hughes". WFXG. October 9, 2009. Archived from the original on February 2, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  11. ^ "Love triangle murder trial begins". CNN. Archived from the original on February 2, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  12. ^ "Prosecution rests in Carla Hughes case". WTVM. October 9, 2009. Archived from the original on February 2, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  13. ^ "Bloody shoes tie Carla Hughes to crime scene". WLBT. October 7, 2009. Archived from the original on February 2, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  14. ^ a b "Saturday testimony in Carla Hughes murder trial". WLBT. October 10, 2009. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  15. ^ "Defense attorneys: Wrong defendant in 2006 slaying". The Meridian Star. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  16. ^ "Defense attorneys: Wrong defendant in 2006 slaying - Picayune Item". Picayune Item. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  17. ^ "Carla Hughes jury deliberating". wbtv.com. October 12, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  18. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20111001142905/http://www.wapt.com/news/21260606/detail.html. Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "Carla Hughes gets a life sentence". WLBT. October 14, 2009. Archived from the original on June 28, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  20. ^ "Carla Hughes' Parents Beg For Her Life, Jury Responds". CBS News. October 15, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  21. ^ "Hughes Sentenced To Life In Prison". WAPT. September 14, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  22. ^ "Mississippi teacher gets life for killing lover's pregnant fiancee". CNN. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  23. ^ [2] Archived October 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Carla Hughes loses appeal in capital murder case". WAPT. September 14, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  25. ^ "Ex-teacher loses appeal in capital murder case". WLBT. June 21, 2012. Archived from the original on February 2, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  26. ^ "Carla Hughes v. State of Mississippi" (PDF). Courts.ms.gov. Retrieved February 23, 2015.