Carla Hughes Trial Update: Defense rests; Hughes doesn’t testify

Mississippi Criminal Defense Attorney Curt Crowley

The question everyone was wondering was answered this morning.  The defense rested, without Carla Hughes taking the witness stand.  It is anticipated that the case will go to the jury this afternoon.

Without questioning Johnnie Walls’ judgment, I’m more than a little shocked that he did not call Hughes to testify.  Generally, there’s a tendency among criminal defense lawyers to try to avoid putting their clients on the witness stand.  Most criminal defense lawyers fear calling the defendant as a witness, because if she gets skewered on cross-examination, the case is lost.  I think many lawyers believe that defendants generally make bad witnesses.  Most also fear doing this because prior lies/inconsistent statements may be called to the jury’s attention.  And there’s always the possibility that other bad acts and criminal history might come out on cross-examination.

I strenuously disagree with this line of thought for a number of reasons.  Fear of the client screwing up on the witness stand is a ridiculous reason not to call the defendant.  Criminal defense lawyers should never make tactical decisions based on fear.  I’ve always thought fear was a terrible trait in a criminal defense attorney.  Furthermore, the risks associated with other information being introduced to the jury are usually heavily outweighed by the advantages of having the client testify. 

The fact is, jurors are human beings.  They need to hear the defendant get up there and say he or she didn’t do it.  Not only do jurors need to hear it, they want to hear the defendant say it.  Obviously, there are times when the facts are so bad that the best advice to the defendant is not to testify.  But in the vast majority of cases, my opinion is that the defendant needs to get up there and say “I didn’t do it.”

It is for these reasons I’m shocked at the decision not to call Hughes.  As I have stated before, Carla Hughes has no criminal history or bad acts that would hurt her in front of the jury.  The only “lies” she could possibly be confronted with would be her initial denials to police that she had an affair with Keyon Pittman.  This falsehood could easily be explained if she simply stated she lied because she didn’t want anyone to know she was dating Rover.  Based upon what I’ve seen, I think the jury would understand.

As far as her not making a good witness or doing poorly on cross-examination, I don’t think that is a factor either.  Carla Hughes is intelligent, educated, and has experience speaking in front of people.  And she’s apparently an affable person.

I am at a loss as to why she did not testify.  I will post again as things develop.

Mississippi Criminal Defense Attorney Curt Crowley


6 responses to “Carla Hughes Trial Update: Defense rests; Hughes doesn’t testify

  1. I think this has been an interesting case. It appears that Keyon used his lover to change his future and destroy Carla’s. The evidence does not convince me that she is guilty of anything but being in love with a “PLAYer”. It appears that he controlled her and the mother of his unborn child. He was the only one who came out of the situation with what he wanted…not to pay child support, not to be tied down with Carla, and to marry the person who, in my opinion, knew of the plan. The state used the fact that he called Avis on the evening of the murder. If she was already dead and her voice mail caught the call…well, the records would show that he placed the call but the records would not show he actually talked to her. If he killed her before he went to basketball practice, no one would have heard the shots because the neighbors were probably not home…Reasonable doubt exists for me.

  2. I too am not convinced of Carla Hughes guilt. I believed that Keyon played her and got her to get the weapons. I also believe that she was present, but Keyon murdered Avis. This is such a sick and sordid ordeal. On top of that, the man is not attractive. Shacking, fornicating, lies and deceit is the foundation of this tri-relationship…It could not help but to end in disaster.

  3. Given all the reasons you list that the defendant should have testified, perhaps the only reason the defendant didn’t testify has something to do with subornation of perjury.

  4. I have been following this case since the beginning and I feel she did it! I think he mother’s testimony waw the most damaging of all, because I am the mother of two adult educated daughters and there is no way one of them what knowingly (at least I hope & pray) go into another woman’s home for the soul purpose up sleeping with this woman’s man… No, way and I testify I knew him and his dead future wife…totally twisted, not the “righteous or for right” people they want us to believe they are. She borrowed and returned the murder weapon, period! Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!

  5. That’s a good point Amanda, but it should seldom be an issue in a criminal case.

    It is for this very reason that I seldom ask my clients whether or not they did it. And at the initial interview, before I even ask for their address, I make sure they understand that whatever they tell me, I’m stuck with. This practice avoids the “subornation” impediment to putting the client on the stand.

  6. I have just been following this case for a week and the only thing I am convinced by Is that Mr. Pittman, committed this crime and has gotten away with wether or not Carla Hughes, gets on the stand in her on defense I have heard enough in the past week that has led me to believe that Carla Hughes, trusted Mr. Pittman, too much she would let him wear her shoes, she must have let him know that she had borrowed her cousin’s gun and knife. She may have even trusted him to let him borrow her cell phone which could explain the reason why it was hitting off the tower in that area .There was gun powder residue found on Mr.Pittman, hands none on Ms.Hughes. Did prosecuters try to talk to anyone in Avis Banks, family?
    Do not send the wrong person to death think harder and further about this case.
    I picked up on that Ms.Hughes was being framed the 1st time I heard about the case a week ago.

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