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Woman who killed husband in 1984 eligible for parole

D.A. cites her disciplinary history, which includes two attempted escapes, in opposition to her release.

November 19, 2012

A woman who killed her husband in their Huntington Beach home more than 20 years ago has been declared eligible for parole, over the Orange County district attorney's objections.

Jeanette Lynn Hughes, now 58, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 26 years to life in prison in December 1986 for killing James Dilbert Hughes, 37.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos and two of James Hughes' family members opposed Jeanette Hughes receiving parole.

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Chrisopoulos and James Hughes' family attended the hearing Friday at the Sacramento Central Office in Rancho Cordova.

Chrisopoulos argued she'd "failed to accept responsibility" for her actions.

"Hughes' disciplinary history shows a high disregard for the law and emphasizes her lack of insight to the severity of the crime she committed," Rackauckas said in a prepared statement released Thursday. "Any progress she has made does not outweigh the factors of unsuitability, time served, or the brutality of the commitment offense; therefore, parole should be denied."

On Jan. 10, 1984, Jeanette Hughes let her boyfriend Adam Salas Ramirez, now 70, into the home she shared with James Hughes. Ramirez shot the sleeping James Hughes twice in the head with a rifle about 3 a.m.

Ramirez was convicted of being an accomplice to the murder.

Jeanette Hughes stood to collect $442,000 under her husband's life insurance policy.

The Huntington Beach Police Department first responded after she reported a robbery.

Evidence showed her husband had been suffocated prior to the gunshots.

While incarcerated, Jeanette Hughes reportedly attempted two prison escapes. Her first attempt, cutting through her window bars, was unsuccessful, after which she was placed under constant supervision.

She later managed to slip out of the high-security California Institution for Women in Frontera on March 25, 1990, after convincing her correctional officer, Cindy Marie Coglietti, to help her. The two were eventually detained at El Paso International Airport in Texas.

andrew.shortall@latimes.com

Twitter: @TCNShortall

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