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Becca was a strong, smart businesswoman who managed a crew of employees and earned more than $100,000 yearly running three farms. And yet, she said, “when it came to meeting Don one to one, I could not function. He brainwashed me so badly… I brainwashed myself so badly. I just felt trapped.”    She didn’t want to believe that she and her children were in terrible danger. She says, “If I had ever admitted to myself that he was capable of killing me, or one of my children, I wouldn’t have been waiting for it to happen.”  In a maximum-security prison, Becca Jean Hughes, 41, told me her story. “Don’s hands had closed down on my windpipe. He had been beating me all the way home till he pulled off a dirt road in the snow. The last thing I ever told him was that I was going to leave him. The last thing he said was that I was a bad bitch.”


As she struggled for her life, Becca’s fingers found the .22 revolver Don kept under the driver’s seat. She held it out so Don could see it, but his hands stayed firmly around her neck.  “How many times had this man told me I was dead? But when he said he was going after the kids after he killed me, I don’t know… but I couldn’t let him do it to them. I pulled the trigger and fired at the floor. Don never went for the gun. Then I shot him. He never said, ‘Don’t shoot’—I don’t think he believed that I’d shoot him.”  On May 16, 1985, Becca, a half-blooded Cherokee mother of seven children, was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to fifty years imprisonment with no parole.

The average murderer in America serves only six years.

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