"48 Hours Mystery:" Shootout at the Hills'

Did Charlene Hill Kill Her Husband in Self-Defense or Was it Murder?

Produced by Clare Friedland and Jenna Jackson

Charlene Hill had lots of plans for the rest of her life.

"A dream… this was Danny and ours dream… we were looking at building our house right here and have the kids come up… look forward to our grandbabies being up here," Charlene Hill says, looking out at the undeveloped land on their ranch.

None of those dreams panned out, because everything changed on Nov. 14, 2006, when she shot her husband, Danny, to death.

"I relive that night so many times….do I wish I could change it. Oh, its just rough… its rough knowing this was our dream and he's gone," she tells "48 Hours Mystery" correspondent Richard Schlesinger.

From the beginning, Charlene's relationship with Danny was always complicated.

"When we started we didn't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of," she Schlesinger. "We had a '68 Chevy pickup and life started…"

They married in 1981. Charlene already had a little boy, Jeremy, from a previous marriage and says she thought "we'd have a beautiful life together."

They settled down in a Houston suburb and soon had two more children - a son Joby and a daughter Jamie.

"I was his little girl," Jamie says. "My Dad and I were very close. He's been there through everything throughout my whole life, pretty much."

"The best memories I have of my youth are on the river with my family," Jeremy recalls. "It was perfect … it was so nice to where people would stop on the river to look at our place… dad swinging in the chair… my brother and sister skiing. It was awesome."

Barbara Graham is Danny Hill's mother.

"Danny was such a good person," she tells "48 Hours." "He was taking his children hunting and fishing, and it was every weekend… How many dads do you know do that?"

Charlene and Danny were also working hard, building their landscaping and storage businesses together.

"Danny, at times, was the most wonderful man to be around - most loving and giving," says Charlene.

But that was just sometimes. Other times, Danny could suddenly turn violent. It had been that way since they met.

Asked if Danny slapped her, Charlene tells Schlesinger, "No, he punched me… He punched me in the face."

Charlene says Danny, who was a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier, over the years not only punched her, he kicked her and threatened to kill her. Charlene's calls to 911 and trips to the emergency room are well documented. She always refused to press charges.

"I was afraid of what would happen if I did," she says.

"He was a very big, strong, intimidating man who feared no one," says Jennifer Hinch, a friend of Charlene's. Hinch first caught a glimpse of Danny's violent side, when she noticed some strange holes in Danny and Charlene's bedroom door.

"They were clean little round holes," Hinch says of the bullet holes. "And Danny said, 'Yeah, that's where I shot and missed.' 'Like shot a gun?' He said, 'Yeah.' Thought it was funny. He laughed."

"So he was shooting at Char through the door of the bedroom 'cause she had locked him out," Hinch explains.

Charlene knows it sounds strange, but like many abuse victims, she often blamed herself.

"I felt a lot of it was my fault, you know? It was what I said. It was what I didn't say. It was how I looked. How I didn't look."

Charlene says one time she did make plans to leave and Danny found out. That's when she learned that trying to escape could be dangerous.

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"After knocking me around, he tied me to a chair and poured gasoline on me and stood there with the lighter and told me if I ever tried to leave, he'd kill me," she says.

Charlene says her husband didn't untie her until the next morning.

"How could you possibly stay with a man who threatened to set you on fire and threatened your life?" Schlesinger asks.

"Where do I go?" she replies. "I have limited resources, I have no family… At the time, I was afraid to leave."

Charlene did finally leave a few years later, after 10 years of marriage. She packed up the three kids and drove to California. But after several months, Charlene returned to Danny voluntarily.

"I missed him desperately while we were separated," she says.

"I mean she loved Danny Hill. She had his children," Hinch says. "I mean those vows said for better and worse and she meant it and she kept 'em."

Susan and Colice Watts were good friends of the Hills for years.

"I think they were each other's drug, that they couldn't live without the other and didn't want to live without the other," Susan Watts says. "We never laughed as hard as we laughed when we were with them. They were a happy, loving couple when we were with them."

That might have been because Danny and Charlene finally went into counseling. And for several years, it looked like it was working.

The family businesses were flourishing. And by now, the Hills owned properties worth millions.

"We were able to look forward to a life that was gonna get better and better," Charlene says.

But those better times ended abruptly in August 2003, when Danny and Charlene were badly hurt in a motorcycle accident. Charlene's leg was shattered; Danny suffered critical brain injuries and he was never the same.

"It changed him dramatically," says Jeremy.

Asked is did Danny still have a temper, Jaime and Jeremy both say, "No."

But Charlene claims Danny's temper was actually more frightening than ever, and that because of his brain injury, he didn't know when to stop.

"It's like someone goes into a rage," she says. Charlene says she was never more afraid of her husband than she was on the evening of Nov. 14, 2006.

"What would he have done if he got you?" Schlesinger asks Charlene.

"He'd a killed me."

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