Elicia Hughes Case Gets National Attention

Published: Jun. 23, 2008 at 2:55 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 30, 2008 at 1:24 PM CDT
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By Julie Straw

A high profile Mississippi murder case gets national attention. Dateline NBC aired a two hour special on Elicia Hughes Sunday night.  She's the former Jackson school teacher who was cleared of murder charges in the death of her husband, after being convicted just months before. Where is she now?  Why did her story catch the eyes of the national media?

"A doting mother, third grade teacher, and to prosecuters a stone cold killer," said Dennis Murphy with Dateline NBC.  "Cause For Alarm" is the title Dateline NBC gave to the story of Elicia Hughes.

The two hour special aired Sunday night and described the details of the mysterious murder of hughes husband Brian.  A tearful Hughes recounts the night of June 3, 2004 when she says she found her husband shot six times in the foyer.

"I didn't know what to do.  As I was touching him I felt blood and he was there and he was hurt and my mind was racing," said Hughes in the interview.

But Hughes was later charged with her husband's murder.  In court the prosecution gave their theory, that Hughes had killed her husband out of jealousy.  Witnesses testified he had two girlfriends.  There was a also a $260,000 life insurance policy Hughes was the beneficiary of.  The jury made their decision, Hughes was guilty.  In February 2007, the judge granted Hughes a new trial citing jury selection discrimination by the prosecution.

In November the new jury reached a different verdict...not guilty.  Hughes was cleared of murder charges.  The District Attorney at the time Faye Peterson was sure the jury got it wrong.  "Unfortunately there's times that killers go free and this is one of these instances," said Peterson.

For Hughes she finally felt justified.  "The true tragedy of this is not the time that I've been persecuted and prosecuted these past three years but the person that actually killed Brian is still out there and they are living their life," said Hughes on November 17, 2007.

Through her attorney, Dennis Sweet, Hughes declined our request for an interview.  Sweet said Hughes believed the local media never told her story fairly.  According to Sweet, Hughes was fired from the Jackson Public School District after her first trial.  The attorney says she is now unemployed.  Hughes has moved out of the Jackson home where Brian Hughes was killed.  She now lives in Pearl with her two daughters.

Sweet gave this statement to WLBT: "Elicia is still struggling to pull her life back together. The case is getting a lot of attention because it demonstrates that innocent people can get convicted and go to jail. But by the grace of God and the judge's appropriate ruling in granting her a new trial she got a second chance.   If not for that she would be serving the rest of her life in prison.  I think the media was so interested because of the acquittal from the second trial."