Carla Hughes' Parents Beg For Her Life, Jury Responds

(AP Photo/Clarion-Ledger, Joe Ellis)
Photo: Carla Hughes consults with a member of her defense team.

CANTON, Miss. (CBS/AP) A Madison County jury of nine women and three men could have sentenced Carla Hughes to death for the brutal 2006 slaying of a pregnant woman who was her romantic rival.

But Carla Hughes' parents begged the jury to spare her life Wednesday during the sentencing phase of the capital murder trial. The jury listened; then, they sentenced Carla Hughes to prison for the rest of her life.

Her father, Carl Hughes, broke down in tears when he took the stand and talked about his daughter's accomplishments and family life.

"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."

Jurors returned the life sentence without the possibility of parole on Wednesday for the 28-year-old former Jackson school teacher and mother of a 5-year-old son. The other option was the death penalty.

The same jury convicted Hughes Tuesday of two counts of capital murder in the Nov. 29, 2006, killing of Avis Banks and her unborn child.

Prosecutors said Hughes killed Banks at her Ridgeland home so she could be with Keyon Pittman, Banks' fiancé 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.

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.

October 13, 2009 - Carla Hughes Verdict: Teacher Found Guilty of Killing Pregnant Avis Banks to Steal Her Fiance