Hughes convicted of killing pregnant woman

Published 9:11 pm Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Carla Hughes’ parents begged a jury to spare her life Wednesday during the sentencing phase of a capital murder trial in the brutal 2006 slaying of a pregnant woman.

Carl Hughes broke down in tears when he took the stand and talked about his daughter’s accomplishments and family life. Her mother made a similar plea earlier in the day.

“I’m not asking you, I’m pleading with you to spare my daughter’s life because, as the past has shown, she’s been very kind to a lot of people,” Carl Hughes said. “She’s a kind person. I just don’t understand. I just don’t understand it all. That’s not her.”

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The jury convicted Carla Hughes on Tuesday in the shooting and stabbing death of Avis Banks and her unborn child. Banks was five months pregnant.

Prosecutors said Hughes killed Banks at her Ridgeland home so she could be with Keyon Pittman, Banks’ fiance and a fellow middle school teacher with whom she had a sexual relationship. Banks was shot in the leg, buttock and head and then stabbed in the face and neck on Nov. 29, 2006.

Jurors must now decide on a death sentence or life without the possibility of parole, the only two sentencing options under a capital murder conviction. Capital murder in Mississippi is a murder committed during the commission of another crime, in this case breaking and entering.

The defense tried to blame the murder on Pittman, saying he was a womanizer and the real culprit. The jury didn’t buy it. Prosecutors say there’s no evidence to show he was involved.