After more than eight years awaiting trial and a day and a half of testimony, the first of three men charged in the October 2007 shooting death of Myron Hughes was convicted of second-degree murder Thursday.

Fitzpatrick Williams, 38, faces a mandatory life sentence after a St. Helena Parish jury of nine women and three men returned the guilty verdict.

“I feel for both families. It’s a tough case, but that’s just what the law says, and the jury made that decision,” Assistant District Attorney Richard McShan, of the 21st Judicial District, said of the conviction.

McShan said the jury deliberated for more than two hours Thursday afternoon, adding, “It looked like they really struggled with it.”

Mary Ann Hughes said Thursday’s verdict brought justice for her son.

“I couldn’t be no better today than the day I was born,” she said. “It’s been eight years of waiting and praying, and justice finally was served for me today.”

Hughes said her family was kept informed of what was going on in the case and was told what to expect throughout the lengthy litigation.

“It’s been a long time coming, and there’s still a ways to go with the other two trials, but today was a good day,” she said.

Williams was lying on the couch at his girlfriend’s house on Calmes Road, just north of the Livingston Parish line off La. 16, when two friends roused him on the night of Oct. 8, 2007, to help settle a feud with Myron Hughes, who lived up the street.

Witness statements conflicted as to what the dispute was about, who pulled out a gun and who fired first, but Hughes and Jesse Thomas III both were shot.

Hughes collapsed near his mother’s house and bled to death, McShan said during opening statements Tuesday.

Shortly after the shooting, police pulled over Williams, who was driving Thomas to a hospital. Detectives later caught up with Samuel Williams, and all three were arrested.

Thomas, now 36, is scheduled for trial in June, and Samuel Williams, now 28, will go before a jury later this year, McShan said. Both face second-degree murder charges.

The case took more than eight years to come to trial, after witnesses disappeared, defense attorneys piled on motions and objections, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed charges and reindicted two of the defendants, and judges and public defenders took new jobs and had to be replaced.

Physical evidence in the case was sparse. Investigators did not test anyone’s hands for gunshot residue, the State Police Crime Lab was unable to pull DNA or fingerprints from the one gun that was recovered or the casings, and the shot that killed Hughes was a “through-and-through,” making ballistics interpretation difficult, according to attorneys and court records.

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