Friday, 24 May 2024

Hughes jury completes first week of deliberations

The 12-woman jury deciding the fate of a 23-year-old San Francisco man in a complex month-and-a-half-long murder trial has completed its first week of deliberations.

District Attorney Jon Hopkins said late Friday that the jury in the trial of Renato Hughes had gone home after wrapping up its first week of deliberations.

The high-profile trial was moved to Martinez earlier this year. After a jury was seated last November, a visiting judge granted a change of venue over concerns that Hughes could not get a fair trial.

Hughes is facing two murder charges for the deaths of his friends, Rashad Williams and Christian Foster, on the morning of Dec. 7, 2005 during an alleged break-in at the Clearlake Park home of Shannon Edmonds and his girlfriend, Lori Tyler.

In addition, Hughes is facing an attempted murder charge for the beating of 17-year-old Dale Lafferty with a baseball bat and the assault on Edmonds who was hit with a shotgun.

Hughes didn't actually wield the pistol that killed Williams and Foster – it was Edmonds who pulled the trigger – the bat that left Lafferty with permanent brain injury, allegedly used by Williams, or the shotgun that Foster is alleged to have used to hit Edmonds in the face.

However, because Hughes is alleged to have been part of a break-in at the house of Shannon Edmonds, he's being tried under the provocative act doctrine, which holds a person responsible for any deaths that occur during the commission of certain violent crimes that can result in a lethal response.

As such, the other assaults also are being charged against him because they were provocative acts conducted by his companions, who Hopkins alleges were part of a “crime team” seeking to steal medical marijuana from Edmonds.

Hopkins and defense attorney Stuart Hanlon gave their closing arguments in the case on July 24, as Lake County News has reported.

The two men hammered away at the weaknesses in each others' cases during closing arguments.

Hopkins emphasized that the three men were at Edmonds' home with the intent to commit a crime, that they took weapons and little money, and weren't there to buy drugs, as Hughes said in his turn on the stand.

He detailed the crime scene and pointed to a getaway car, Hughes' DNA evidence found at the scene and eyewitness accounts to build the case for a robbery gone bad.

Hanlon, in turn, questioned the lack of blood evidence on a shotgun the prosecution has alleged was the same one used in the robbery; Hughes reportedly had a cut hand and Hanlon said his blood should have been on the gun if he had been carrying it. He also argued for the presence of a fourth individual, known as “Dre” to Hughes.

But Hanlon especially focused on Edmonds, who he alleged reloaded his pistol to continue shooting at Foster and Williams as they ran from his home. Both men died from wounds they received as they fled; Edmonds also said he shot Foster in the back as he lay on the ground, which Hanlon said was proved by forensic evidence.

He called Edmonds a “cold-blooded” killer, who had reportedly told police watching Foster's pants fall down as he ran away was “funny as s***.” But shooting young men in the backs, Hanlon emphasized, was no laughing matter, and was an indication of Edmonds' sense of vigilante justice.

On July 25 Hopkins offered his rebuttal to Hanlon's arguments, and then Judge Barbara Zuniga gave the jury instructions before adjourning for the week.

Out of five days this week Hopkins said the jury probably did about three days of deliberation, because some of the days the jury was only in session part of the day.

The jury asked to have Hughes' testimony, given on July 17, reread to them Friday, which took most of the day and may not have been completed, said Hopkins. It was the only thing they requested other than some exhibits.

Jurors are set to be back in the Martinez courthouse to continue deliberations on Tuesday, Hopkins said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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