Friday, 12 July 2024

Hughes trial scheduled for November

LAKE COUNTY – The trial of a young San Francisco man accused of the murders of two companions is set to take place this fall.

Renato Hughes, 22, is accused of the deaths of Christian Foster and Rashad Williams, which prosecutors allege took place during a break-in of a Clearlake Park home in December 2005.

Although Hughes did not personally shoot the two men, the District Attorney's Office charged him with homicide under a “murder by accomplice” statute.

That law allows him to be tried for the deaths because, even though he didn't pull the trigger, he was alleged to have taken part in a felony liable to result in a “lethal response” in this case, homeowner Shannon Edmonds shooting the two men as they ran from his home.

Retired Alameda Superior Court Judge William A. McKinstry, who will hear the case, met with District Attorney Jon Hopkins and defense attorney Stuart Hanlon on Thursday morning to set the trial date.

Hopkins said pre-trial motions will begin in October in Superior Court's Department 3.

Aqeela El-Amin Bakheit, president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and members of the chapter's Legal Redress Committee – which she also chairs – attended the morning's proceedings.

Also in attendance were Hughes' mother, Judy, and Sheila Burton, mother of Rashad Williams, Bakheit reported. Judy Hughes has attended all of her son's hearings, said Bakheit, and was the one who contacted the local NAACP chapter to ask them to be involved with monitoring her son's case.

Bakheit reported that the court set jury selection for Oct. 23-25, with the trial itself expected to get under way at 9 a.m. Nov. 6.

The trial originally had been scheduled to start May 10, but Hanlon's effort to get the trial moved from Lake County preempted that plan.

Hanlon has told Lake County News that he does not believe a black man, such as Hughes, can receive a fair trial in Lake County because of its mostly white demographic.

Judge Arthur Mann ruled at the beginning of March that the trial would stay in Lake County. However, in April Hanlon took his case to the state's First Appellate District Court, which ruled April 26 to support Mann's decision.

In May, Hanlon took the case to the state Supreme Court, which on May 23 also upheld Mann's ruling, clearing the way for the trial to move forward.

As Legal Redress Committee chair, Bakheit said it is her responsibility to watch the case and make sure Hughes' civil rights aren't violated. She said she and fellow committee members have been attending hearings since January 2006.

She said NAACP's interest in the case isn't based on ethnicity, and they're not trying to take sides. “It's not our place to decide his guilt or innocence.”

Bakheit said the group intends on attending the entire trial when it starts in the fall.

“Every step of the way – we have been there, we will continue to be there,” Bakheit 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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