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Board urges parole in O.C. murder plot

Jeanette Lynn Hughes was convicted in 1985 of conspiring with lover to kill husband.

November 20, 2012|Nicole Santa Cruz

An Orange County woman who conspired with her lover to kill her husband as he slept and who later escaped from prison with a guard has been recommended for parole.

Jeanette Lynn Hughes, 58, was convicted in 1985 of plotting to murder her husband, James Hughes, as he slept in their Huntington Beach home.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, November 28, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 52 words Type of Material: Correction
Jeanette Lynn Hughes: An article in the Nov. 20 LATExtra section about a parole recommendation for Jeanette Lynn Hughes, who was convicted of conspiring to kill her husband, said that Hughes had escaped in 1990 from a women's prison in Fontana. The California Institution for Women, formerly called Frontera, is in Chino.

She was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison.

The state parole board granted Hughes' request on Friday in Sacramento after a hearing that stretched more than seven hours, said prosecutor Paul Chrisopoulos with the Orange County district attorney's office.

Hughes' attorney, R. Andrew Murray, said his client has been psychologically evaluated and has done a "tremendous amount of introspection and self-help."

"She has honestly and earnestly accepted responsibility for the murder of her husband," Murray said. "And she is truly remorseful for it."

Hughes initially told police that a masked intruder shot her husband as he slept in the early morning hours of Jan. 10, 1984,and stole the family car.

The intruder turned out to be Adam Ramirez, Hughes' lover and former employer, who was later arrested in the car, which he hadn't abandoned as planned because he left his own car keys with his son.

Hughes later confessed that Ramirez fired two small-caliber bullets into her husband's temple because they wanted to collect on his $442,000 life insurance policy.

After three trials, Hughes was convicted of conspiracy and murder in December 1985.

She testified in the trial, admitting to the plan but saying that she had second thoughts and tried to stop Ramirez.

In 1990, while serving time at a women's prison in Fontana, Hughes escaped by persuading a correctional officer to help her.

The two were eventually detained at an airport in El Paso. Prosecutors said she'd previously tried to escape by cutting the bars to her cell.

Murray said she has not had discipline issues since the escape and called her a "model inmate."

"To me, she really, truly has rehabilitated herself," he said.

The victim's family and Chrisopoulos opposed the parole, arguing that Hughes has a history of being manipulative as demonstrated by the murder conspiracy and her escape from prison years later.

"It doesn't matter if she's locked up behind doors, she has the ability to manipulate people," Chrisopoulos said.

The recommendation, which comes after five parole hearings, will be reviewed by the governor's office, which has until April 15 to reverse or uphold the decision.

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nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

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