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August 03, 1977 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-08-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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THE CASE OF THE BATTERED WIFE:
Defense tries a
clear womhan of

The Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Wednesday, August 3, 1977
News Phone: 764-0552
M.
Car industries ply public
with Iobs vs. air crisis
BACK AT THE BEGINNING of the decade, the Clean
Air Amendments became an Act of Congress, and a
piece of legislation the major American auto companies
would come to deplore. That Act set certain minimum
standards for acceptable levels of auto emissions, which
Congress expected the auto companies to implement in
the 1975 models.
Then, along about the middle of the decade, the
auto companies cried out for mercy. Congress quickly
relented, extending the deadlines to the 1976 mnodels,
then to the 1978 models. Now, those companies want the
same deadlines to be extended through to the 1979 model
cars.
Under no circumstances should Congress fall to the
blackmail proposed by the auto industry. By threaten-
ing to close down all manufacturing plants in the United
States if the deadlines are not extended, the companies
pose a difficult choice: jobs or clean air.
BECAUSE AUTO EMISSIONS standards have been in
the public forum since 1965, the car industry has
little excuse for not meeting the standards previously
set in 1970 for 1975. Rather than consider another roll-
back of the deadlines, Congress should seriously discuss
a set of federal level penalties each time the auto com-
panies ask for a stay of the deadlines.
Instead of blaming their. own sluggish efforts to
meet the standards, the auto companies choose to blame
Congress for the current problem. Because Congress didn't
meet industry demands to drop the deadlines quickly
enough, the industry would blame Congress if forced
to meet their bluff.
But the auto industry cannot afford to layoff their
workers while they shut down their plants. Those shut-
downs could affect as many as one in six jobs in Amerj-
ca.
After completing a record profit making quarter,
the industry could well afford to meet stiff penalties
while moving full steam ahead to meet the standards
now.
Clean air is much too important to pass up because
of political quibblings over standards, guidelines and
deadlines set back in 1970.
TODAY'S STAFF
News: Stu McConnell, Ken Parsigion, Sue Warner, Barb
Zahs
Editorial: Linda Willcox
Sports: Gary Kicinski
Photo: Christina Schneider

By LINDA GRANT
Pacific News Service
The defendant is Francine
Hughes. She is 29, the moth-
er of four children - and
the ex-wife of a man police
say she tried to burn alive
at their home last winter
in this small town outside
Lansing.
Hughes, police charge, set
fire to the house March 9
as her ex-husband slept.
Earlier in the day, police
had come to their home to
break up a fight between
the couple. Later, they say,
she set the fire, bundled
her children into the car,
and drove to the Ingham
County Sheriff's Depart-
ment, where she allegedly
yelled to deputies: "I did
it. I did it. I burned him
up."
When Francine Hughes
stands trial in October she
will bring with her a sheaf
of police reports and testi-
mony from friends and
neighbors showing that for
a decade James Hughes, the
dead man, had subjected
her to repeated beatings
and psychological abuse.
"THIS CASE may well set
a new standard for self-de-
fense," said attorney Nel-
son Brown, a founder of
the Francine Hughes De-
fense Committee. Contin-
ued abuse over an extend-
ed period, rather than a
single threatening incident,
he argues, may be estab-
lished as the basis of a self-
defense plea.
"We are not condoning a
woman's killing of her hus-
band, but we must give
these women (battered wiv-
es) alternatives to deal with
so this kind of tragedy
doesn't happen again," said
Carrie Sandahl, another de-
fense committee member.
"We feel that, because
Francine was given no oth-
er alternative but to defend
herself in the best way she
knew how, all charges
against her should be
dropped."
The Hughes defense stra-
tegy meshes with a grow-
ing nationwide campaign
for the protection of bat-
tered wives.
State and national crime
statistics show that most
violent crimes continue to
occur in private homes.
A 1973 FBI report found
that a quarter of all mur-
ders are committed within
the family - and over half
of those involve one spouse
killing the other. The na-
tional crime report estima-
ted that there are at least
one million battered wom-
en in American families-
a factor that figures prom-
inently in family murder
cases.
Ironically, in the Hughes
case, Ingham County Prose-
cutor Peter B. Houk won

election last year in a cam-
paign which included state-
ments of sympathy for bat-
tered women.
Hughes is faced with two
charges: first-degree mur-
der, implying premedita-
tion, and felony murder, a
charge used when someone
died during the commission
of a felony - in this case,
arson. Bail is normally de-
nied in first degree murder
cases.
"I feel that she has been
overcharged," says Aryon
Greydanus, Hughes' court-
appointed attorney, adding
that the felony murder
charge is the same as one
lodged against suspects in
a recent bank robbery in
which a Lansing police of-
ficer was killed.
INGHAM COUNTY Dis-
trict Judge Robert Bell, who
bound Hughes over for trial,
declared during that hear-
ing: "Were I not a judge,
my initial reaction would
be one of compassion and
I would think bond should
be set. I do not believe
Hughes will leave the area."
Under the law, though, he
said, "my hands are tied."
Hughes has shared a cell
in the Ingham County jail
since March 9 with several
other women awaiting trial
in felony cases. Her four
children, ranging from five
to 12 years old, 'are living
with her mother and are
barred from visiting her in
jail.
She has seen them only
once since March, when she
appeared in court for a cus-
tody hearing. James Hugh-
es' parents filed an unsuc-
cessful suit to gain tempor-
ary custody of the children.
Aside from the legal is-
sues, the case has raised
provocative questions about'
the public's attitudes to-
ward battered wives and,
Hughes supporters main-
tain, it provides insights
into the practical and psy-
chological barriers that pre-
vent a woman's escape from.
such a situation.
FRANCINE AND JAMES
Hughes were high school
sweethearts in Jackson,
Mich., and they married
when she was in her teens,
before she completed high
school. They moved to near-
by Dansville. The four chil-
dren were born within six
years.
But according to her
friends the marriage was
marked from the beginning
by James Hughes' violence
toward his wife.
Betty Cover, Francine's
classmate in secretarial
courses at Lansing Business
University at the time of
James Hughes' death, re-
called that Francine went
out of her way to warn an-
other classmate who had
been hit by her boyfriend

new to
murder
to "be careful."
Cover says Francine told
her Hughes beat her before
their marriage but that she
had expected things to
change. "I was so naive,'
Francine told the woman.
IN THE SIX months be-
fore James Hughes' death,
Betty Cover says she fre-
quently noticed large bruis-
es on Francine's body,
which Francine told her
were caused by "spankings"
her ex-husband gave her
after the two fought ver-
bally.
"He was very jealous of
her," Cover said, explain-
ing that he frequently
showed up unexpectedly
during an hour break in
Francine's classes-to check
up on her.
The marriage ended in di-
vorce in 1971, and Francine
moved back to Jackson.
Shortly after, however,
James was seriously injured
in an automobile accident,
which occurred after an ar-
gument with Francine. Ac-
cording to Francine's attor-
ney, Hughes' parents pres-
sured her into returning to
Dansville to care for him.
With the help of an Aid
to Dependent Children
grant, she purchased a
home next door to the one
where James lived with his
parents. James apparently
spent large portions of time
at both houses, and the
complaints of physical
abuse of Francine began
again.
ACCORDING to defense
attorney Greydanus, James
was a member of Alcoholics
Anonymous, and there were
hints at a preliminary hear-
ing that he may have had
mental problems. Police
were called to the home on
a number of occasions, and
Hughes was jailed at least
once, although Francine
apparently never- pressed
charges against him.
Francine Hughes' enroll-
ment at the business school
was an attempt to get off
welfare. Her ex-husbarid's
resentment over her return
to school was the focus of
the argument that brought
police to the Hughes home
on the afternoon of March
9.
James Hughes allegedly
became angered when
Francine began to prepare
quick frozen meals after
returning from morning
classes. During the fight,
James tore up and burned
some of her textbooks and
notebooks.
The house fire broke out
several hours later, after
James had fallen asleep in
the bedroom. Hughes died
of smoke inhalation and
was found near the bed-

room door.
See BATTERED.-Ps--

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