Dist. Attorney involved in Aniah Blanchard’s murder case on trial for ethics violations
Brandon Hughes pledged to bring Aniah Blanchard’s killer to justice, this week he stands trial for 7 felony counts.
Opelika, Ala. (WBRC) - A jury has been seated in the trial of suspended Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes.
Hughes is indicted on five ethics violations for reportedly using his elected position for personal gain, one count of perjury and one count of conspiracy to commit theft.
The indictment accuses Hughes of using public funds to hire attorneys to settle a matter that personally benefited him and his wife. Subsequent court hearings indicate Hughes took $14,000 dollars from the District Attorney’s Fund to litigate a settlement in a sexual discrimination claim filed against him by a former female employee.
Read more here.
Hughes is also charged with ethics violations for reportedly using his subpoena power as district attorney to gather evidence for his criminal defense and to hire his children. The indictment alleges Hughes conspired to steal a pickup truck from a Chambers County business by using a Lee County search warrant.
It’s unclear whether Hughes will testify in his own defense. So far, Hughes testified before the Alabama Ethics Commission and a Lee County Grand Jury, both resulting in independent perjury charges in Lee and Montgomery Counties.
Hughes maintains his innocence, it’s unclear whether he was offered a plea agreement.
The case will be tried by the Alabama Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Division, which specializes in ethics violations and public corruption. The Alabama Supreme Court appointed retired Colbert County Judge Pamela Baschab to preside over the case.
Due to the indictment, it’s a statutory requirement that Hughes be suspended from his position until his case is adjudicated. A Lee County Circuit judge appointed a longtime prosecutor from the office to serve as acting district attorney. Hughes has been on paid leave since November 2020.
Prior to Hughes suspension, he was directly involved in prosecution of Ibraheem Yazeed, charged with kidnapping and capital murder in connection to the death of Homewood teen Aniah Blanchard. In December of 2019, Hughes announced his office was seeking the death penalty in this case.
Copyright 2021 WBRC. All rights reserved.