Cousin testifies he gave gun to woman on trial

Published 12:02 am Sunday, October 11, 2009

The woman accused of murdering a pregnant rival in a deadly love triangle borrowed a gun and knife just before the 2006 slaying and returned it days later, a witness testified Friday.—

Authorities have said Carla Hughes became a suspect in the slayings of Avis Banks and her unborn child when a relative told Ridgeland police he loaned a gun and knife to Hughes days before the attack.

Patrick Nash, Hughes’ cousin, testified Friday that he gave Hughes a Rossi .38-caliber revolver and a knife for protection days before Banks was killed on Nov. 29, 2006, in the garage of the home she and Pittman shared. He identified what he said was the weapon in evidence.

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The two cousins rarely looked at each other during Nash’s testimony.

Prosecutors allege Hughes killed Banks, so Keyon Pittman, Banks’ fiance, could be with her. But throughout the trial, the defense has attempted to portray Pittman as the killer.

Hughes and Pittman, both teachers at Chastain Middle School in Jackson in 2006, were in a sexual relationship at the time of Banks’ death.

“All the evidence points to Carla Hughes,” Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest said late Thursday after the fourth day of testimony in Hughes’ capital murder trial concluded in Madison County Circuit Court.

Police testified Pittman was a person of interest until they learned of Hughes’ access to the gun.

Hughes’ cousin gave Ridgeland police the big break in the case, Guest said.

Nash told Ridgeland police the five-shot handgun was fully loaded when he gave it to Hughes, but it was empty and had been cleaned when she returned it two days after the slayings.

Mississippi State Crime Lab ballistics expert Starks Hatchcock will testify that the bullets recovered from Banks’ body were fired from the gun that Nash said he allowed Hughes to use.

On Thursday, prosecutors showed an 80-minute video of the interview Hughes gave to police two days after Banks’ death. She had not been charged at that time.

Hughes admitted her romantic relationship with Pittman on the video. She also told police she didn’t have access to a firearm.

“That was untrue,” Ridgeland Police Detective Frank Dillard testified Thursday.

Dillard said Patrick Nash told police Hughes returned the gun hours after her Dec. 1, 2006, interview at police headquarters.