Francine Wilson, the subject of domestic violence, is dead

According to Jim Hughes, one of her children, Wilson died March 22 of complications from Pneumonia.
By Alvin Munene | Apr 01, 2017
Francine Wilson, whose trial for the murder of her abusive husband became a landmark spousal abuse case, has died.

Wilson's trial became the subject of a book and a 1984 television movie.

According to Jim Hughes, one of her children, Wilson died March 22 of complications from Pneumonia.

A memorial service was held for her Wednesday in Alabama, where she had been residing in the town of Leighton.

Wilson killed her husband, James 'Mickey' Hughes in 1977 by setting fire to the couple's Dansville, Michigan home while he slept.

During her trial, Wilson described how her husband had abused her for years.

On Friday, Arjen Greydanus, her attorney at the highly-publicized trial, said that Wilson's testimony about the horrendous she endured in her marriage was effective.

The jury found her not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.

"Temporary insanity at the time was not a recognized defense," said Greydanus. It was a hook I used to obtain a non-guilty verdict."

Greydanus added that at the time, he did not feel that a traditional self-defense approach would not have resulted in a non-guilty verdict.

The lawyer said the case changed the way domestic violence would be perceived. He added the case was a catalyst for the creation of virtually all legislation regarding domestic abuse and the approaches law enforcement now uses to deal with cases of domestic abuse.

Jim Hughes remembers his father as "the kind of a monster looming over and everybody being frightened."

Hughes added that the way laws were back then, law enforcement would not do anything about spousal abuse.

The trial was the subject of a book and a TV movie, 'The Burning Bed,' which starred Farrah Fawcett.

The trial's legal strategy, meanwhile, was later coined a 'burning-bed' defense.

Wilson was 69.


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