44-year-old John David Hughes, of Wing, was convicted by a jury for the 2012 burglary and attempted murder of David Reynolds.
The jury deliberated for 18 minutes before returning their verdict. The State was represented at trial by District Attorney, Walt Merrell, who stated that he “appreciates the jury’s verdict and the patience they put into sifting through all of the evidence.” Circuit Court Judge Charles “Lex” Short presided over the trial.
Hughes was arrested on May 15, 2012 by Covington County Sheriff’s Deputies for a home invasion at a residence on Red Oak Road. Hughes was apprehended by the home owner’s 16 year old son and the victim, David Reynolds. According to Reynolds’ testimony at trial, he was awakened around 2:30 a.m. by an unknown noise. Reynolds stated that he opened his bedroom door and found John David Hughes standing just a few feet from him. According to Reynolds, Hughes then raised a 12 gauge shotgun and fired one round of buckshot at point blank range. Reynolds, seeing the barrel coming up, pushed it away and retreated back into the bedroom. Hughes pursued and then shot Reynolds in the left shoulder with a second round of buckshot.
The homeowner, Ellen Weed, testified that Reynolds then escaped out of the bedroom. Hughes followed and Reynolds ambushed Hughes in the hall way. Weed stated her son then assisted Reynolds in subduing Hughes until law enforcement arrived.
In an unusual turn of events, Hughes absented himself from the Court proceedings. “A defendant has a right to be present in Court, “ Merrell noted, “but, if he doesn’t want to be present, he can waive that right. Mr. Hughes made it clear to the Court that he did not want to be present during the trial.” Merrell added, “that was a first for me. Hughes was represented by Bill Alverson, Jr. and William Alverson, III, at trial. Though Mr. Hughes was not there, his lawyers conducted the trial just as if he were, and fought until the bitter end.”
When asked if drugs or alcohol were involved in the case, Merrell answered in the affirmative, adding that Hughes told investigators during an interview that he had been drinking beer “all night long” and, in addition to the beer, Hughes stated he took four Lortabs. “Yet again, we have a case that has a direct link to drugs or alcohol,” Merrell noted. “I’d say that this started out as a drug crime of sorts, and ended up with someone nearly dying – who knows whether Mr. Hughes would have made these criminal decisions if he wasn’t impaired?”
Merrell stated that Hughes has “at least one prior felony conviction. At sentencing for these two felonies, he faces up to life in prison.” Merrell added he intends to ask the Court to sentence Hughes to consecutive life sentences for his crimes. Sentencing has not yet been set.
Merrell also thanked the Covington County Sheriff’s Department, specifically Investigator Jerry Fields, Sgt. Jeff Daniels and Sgt. Lamar Stokes, for their work on the case.