A Livingston Parish man has been convicted of second degree murder in the killing of his ex-girlfriend, who ran a daycare.
Errol Wayne Hicks, 70, was convicted of fatally shooting Carol Hutchinson in 2019. Ten women and two men sat on the jury that returned the guilty verdict Thursday afternoon after two days of often emotional testimony. They deliberated for a little more than an hour.
Hutchinson, who ran Little People's Playstation in Livingston, was described by family, friends and coworkers as "a superhero" — vibrant, selfless and loving.
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Several of her loved ones cried and embraced outside the courthouse after the verdict was announced.
"We've been waiting for this for over two years," said Sammy Hutchinson, Carol's older brother. "He got what he needed. We all felt like he'd run my baby sister down and executed her. Now he gets what he got coming."
Hutchinson's son, Lloyd Hunter Pearson, said Hicks "should have gotten the death penalty," but because the law did not allow for capital punishment for this crime, he said the verdict is "the best possible outcome." Instead, he faces life in prison.
During the two-day trial, the prosecution called 17 witnesses, painting a picture of a couple that had fallen out of love. Text messages retrieved from Hutchinson's phone and read into court record illustrated a gradually strained — and later explosive — partnership, with tensions over financial assets growing as the relationship dissolved.
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The defense argued that the shooting was more a crime of passion and therefore fit the lesser charge of manslaughter. But the state doubled down on their portrait of Hicks as deliberate and merciless in the murder.
In his closing statement, Assistant District Attorney Brett Sommer said Hicks, after shooting Hutchinson twice on the back porch of his house, calmly followed her while she ran first to one neighbor's home, and then another, before he shot her two more times — one of those shots targeting her head.
"This is not a manslaughter. It was a manhunt," said Serena Birch, assistant district attorney. "Mr. Hicks hunted Carol like a deer."
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Although there was some suggestion Hicks would take the stand in his own defense, at the last minute he decided he would not testify during trial. No witnesses were called by his attorneys.
Hicks' attorney, Susan Hebert, attempted to convince the jury Hutchinson had first pulled a gun on Hicks, arguing he was reacting to the threat when he shot her. Hicks himself gave a similar statement shortly after his arrest.
However, a Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office detective previously testified during a bond hearing there was no evidence of Hutchinson ever being armed in the encounter.
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Sheriff's Office records show two prior domestic disturbance calls to Hicks’ address — one in 2016 and another in 2014 — but Hutchinson was not involved in either incident and there were no arrests, according to authorities. There was no restraining order on record between the two.
Birch, the assistant district attorney on the case, said her two years on the case have been emotional. Hutchinson's family has "deep ties in Livingston Parish," and the whole community has experienced the tragedy.
"I feel like definitely justice was served," she said. "It was a tough case, but I think in the end, we got the right verdict."
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Hicks was remanded into the custody of the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office after the verdict was read, and his bond was revoked. His sentencing will take place at a later date.
"We miss her and we can't bring her back," Sammy Hutchinson said. "But at least we got justice."