The Burning Bed (1984) Script

It was like I was watching myself.

And I told the kids to get in the car, told them to wait.

It was march 9th, 1977, in dansville, Michigan.

What's happening?

What the hell is going on?


Hey, there! There's kids in there.

Is there people in there? Please, don't!

My boy is in there! I think my boy's in there!

Where's Fran?

Mrs. Hughes, my name is aryon greydanus.

The court has appointed me to be your attorney.

It's sort of ironic. I used to work in a prosecutor's office.

A few months ago, i would have been prosecuting this case.

Mrs. Hughes, I've been told that you committed murder.

Is that correct?

I've been told that you confessed to committing murder.

Is that correct?

If the information i have been given is accurate, this will be an extremely difficult case to defend.

It will be impossible if you won't help me.

Please answer me, Mrs. Hughes.


Yes? Yes what? Yes, you did kill him?

Mrs. Hughes?

Last night I dreamed that he...

He was here.

He came into the jail, and keys were dangling.

He came into my cell, and sat down, and said, "everything will be all right. I'm sorry."

I loved him.

I did.

Who's that guy over there?

Who? The one smoking.

That's Mickey Hughes. He's older.

Isn't he cute'?

He's really wild, too, I think.

Let's get something to drink.

Come on. Francine!

You're one of the Hughes boys. I heard about you.

What did you hear?

Why aren't you dancing?

Ain't found anybody I want to dance with.

Want one?


What's the matter, you afraid it'll stunt your growth?

I'm not afraid of anything.

Am I gonna see you Friday? Maybe.

Faster! Faster, Mickey!

Hey! Okay! All right!



Don't, Mickey.

What's the matter?

Come on, you've got nothing to be afraid of.

I know what I'm doing.

You wouldn't believe what happens at the night shift at the nursing home.


They got these two nurses, and...

Hey! Come on, you guys, knock it off.

I just love it when you say my name.

You'd try to convince me of anything.

Yeah, I could, if you'd just close your eyes.

Mickey, don't! Don't.

You can hear what's going on in the backseat, can't you?

I want to do it right, not in the front seat of a car.

I want to wait until I get married.

Right. Okay, so let's get married.

When? Right away.

What's the hurry?

I can't believe you!

Dinner's ready.

Why don't you two come on in and sit down?

You sit right here.

Thank you.

Mickey says your folks are mountain people, too.

I guess you've got some manners. I hope so, ma'am.

Well, I wasn't no older than you when Berlin and I got married.

Well, I guess I've got something to say about that, right, Mickey?

Would you cut the roast, daddy?

Francine, I really can't believe you don't want to see him anymore.

Don't be so hard on him. Why don't you take him back?

Because I need some time to see if... Why?

He just... I don't know.

He won't leave me alone. He's always talking about getting married.

What's that color? Pinkissimo.

I like it.

He said I'll destroy him if I make him wait any longer.

Doesn't sound so bad to me.

He really loves you.

Francine, come in here and help me, hon.

Just a minute.

He does, doesn't he? Yeah.

He's sitting home alone, listening to records and crying.

That's love.

Yeah, it's real...

I don't know. I think I should finish school, maybe get a job, just get out of here.

You're everything to me.

Nobody ever said that to me before.

Well, I never said that to anybody.

I told him over and over that I wanted to wait, but he wouldn't take no for an answer.

I didn't know what to think. I mean, nobody ever loved me like that.

It was real powerful.

I'm such a lucky guy.

Marry me, Fran. Marry me. Make me happy. Make yourself happy.

I want to.

I don't know anymore.

It's such a beautiful night.

Big girls don't cry hey.

Big girls don't cry

do I look any different?

No. Why?

Look at me. Look in my eyes. What do you see?

Same thing I see every day, pupils.

L'm serious. So am I.

What are you talking about? Want a donut?

I'm taking a donut.

Am I walking any different? No.

Come on, I give up. What's the big deal?

I did it.

You what?

My god, Francine, that is a big deal.

Are you okay? I think so.

Think anybody will be able to tell by looking?

Don't look. No.

I hope not.

I hope I'm not pregnant.

He didn't have any...

My god.

Well, did you like it?

I don't know.

Where were you?

Where else? Yeah.

I guess you'll marry him, huh? I guess.

That one's $93.

Ma, I'm gonna need a little help.

How much help?

$93 worth of help.

You can buy it on time if you have credit. You just make monthly payments.

I'll make good on it.

Hell, you ain't gonna get married every day, now, are you?

Not on your life.

Well, when I was a young man and never been kissed I got to thinkin' it over how much I had missed so I got me a girl and I kissed her and then, and then oh, lordy, well, I kissed her again because she had kisses sweeter than wine she had kisses sweeter than wine

kisses sweeter than wine well, I asked her to marry and be my sweet wife you like being married? I like it a lot.

We're home, newlyweds!

Come on, my zipper!

I can't wait till we get a place of our own.

I want some soda pop. Me too.

I'll get it.

Fran, would you help out?

Of course. Stop it!

Can't wait, huh?

Lover boy.

You'd best be looking for a steady job now.

I'm working on it.

We'd been married about a year, but we were still living with Mickey's parents.

I was trying to fit in the best I could. We were hoping Mickey would find a job.

Now, here's Mickey when he was six.

Quiet little thing. Never used to make a bit of fuss.

Sure hope he likes this.

I think you look real pretty. Thanks.

Thought you pulled the head on this thing.

Did you get a job? No.

Weren't for bad luck...

Yeah, you got it.

Awful early in the day to quit looking, isn't it?

What do you think?

Got a beer? Me, too.

Well, what do you think?

Where'd you get that?

Kmart, on sale for a dollar.

Take it off.

Mickey. Take it off. Get me a beer.

I'll get it.

Get it yourself.


Well, that's different, ain't it? That's real sassy.

Make a fool out of me, sassing me in front of my family!

You're crazy!

Hey, let me in!

Promise you'll be good.

Don't you ever lock no door on me, ever! Ever!

Give me that! Don't!

You know how to behave!

Fran, come on.


It's just that you look so good in those things. They're too sexy.

I only wanted to look good for you.

Yeah, I know.

It wasn't so wrong to look pretty before we were married.

Why is it now? -Lt's not. It's not.

Look, it's just that I love you so much, I can't stand to think of you dressing up for anybody else.

Mick, I'm sorry.

This came for you.

Mrs. Hughes, we're just wasting our time.

If you can't learn to trust me, then perhaps you would be better served by another attorney.

I've been turned down on a plea bargain. You've been denied bail.

I don't have a clue of how to plead this case.

What do I have to do or say to convince you to defend yourself?

You like it in here? Do you?

Well, fine.

Do you know what this is?

This is a letter from a woman who has been beaten by her husband for years.

She read about what you did, about what was happening to you, and she realized that she had to leave her husband.

Mrs. Hughes, you are not alone.

I always wanted to have a house in the country, the kids, you know, the whole thing.

Mickey and me, we dreamed about it. It was fun.

When he was working, he'd always buy me something nice.

Something real nice.

How do you like my girl?

That's a beautiful scarf. You buy that for her, Mickey?

You bet.

That's a fine woman, indeed. You're a lucky man.

Anyway, when I got up to the top of that building, there was this observatory.

I looked up, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky, just the full moon, as naked as me the day I was born.

Don't tell me that! I saw! You were looking at him!

Knock it off, won't you?

What's going on?

So I left.

Berlin took me to my mama's place in Jackson.

I'm gonna get a job. I was thinking maybe they needed...

Help me with this root, will you? I can't seem to get it all out.

I was thinking maybe they needed somebody down at the donut shop.

I'd like to try to finish school.

You always was good with gardening.

Mama, I don't want to go back.

Bless me, I had to sell your old bed, Francine.

I want to stay here for a while.

Lots of women, they have to put up with their men.

Especially if there's children.

And mostly the men don't mean it.

Hand me that can over there, will you, honey?

If you make a hard bed, you have to lay in it.

Have you been sick in the mornings yet?

It ain't fair.

Now, you know that Mickey's gonna be coming by.

He's already called you... I don't want to talk to him!

It's his baby, too.

I know he's jealous, but that's only natural.

It's your duty to stand by him.

Francine, he loves you.

It's not really so bad, is it?

No, it ain't so bad.


My daughter!

Christy Marie.

He was so proud when Christy was born.

When she was six months old, we moved into our own place.

It wasn't the greatest, but I was real happy.

Would you get the baby seat out first, honey?

Got our own place finally.

I love you.

You know where I want to plant the garden? Right in the front.

You are my sunshine my only sunshine the new job, it's gonna work out just fine.

The baby's so big.

How old is she now? Six months.

Can you believe that?

Did my mother ever feel that way about me?

I love her so much, and so does Mickey.

Get up.

Hey, you girls, come on in. We're gonna play some records.

I'm glad you're here.

You guys ready for some more beers?

Everybody is. We want some more food, honey.

Ernie wants five hamburgers. Make it three.

Hey, when did you do this?



Hey, Mick, will you change the record?

In town.


I just took Christy into town, Mickey. We get lonely out here.

I told you not to go in town without me.

So what do you think?

Not bad. Yeah, it's not bad.

You okay?

I don't know how you can put up with it.

Things have been really good since Christy was born.

He's just a little ragged since he lost his job.

I'm sorry, Francine, but that don't make it right.

It was just as much my fault.

We're a family now. I've got to try to be a good wife.

I've got to figure out what he wants and what he's thinking.

Just wait. He'll be in here apologizing any minute.

You gonna let him?

It's not easy for him, too, you know.

It's hard being a good husband and a good father.

He's doing the best he can.

Stop looking at me. I'm all right.


Everybody's gone.

You don't have to do that. I want to do it.

Fran, I'm sorry.

Don't talk about it, okay?

I don't know how you put up with me sometimes.

Can't control myself.

I don't really deserve you.


I don't?

"Yes. Yes, you do, Mickey. You deserve me.

"Of course you do, Mickey. Don't say that."

My only sunshine you make me happy when skies are gray excuse me. Louder. Sing louder.

You'll never know, dear louder .

How much I love you play!

Please don't take my sunshine away

I told you to shut up. You have a big mouth, Fran.

Leave me alone!

Shut up! You're sick!



No, don't!

I hate you!

"No! '


Fran, come here.

I don't want to.

Come in here. I want to talk to you. No.

I want to tell you I'm sorry.

I love you.

Why'd you do it? Why?

Don't cry.


I'm sorry, Mrs. Hughes, but we don't make the rules.

The head of the household must apply for welfare.

Now, why didn't your husband come with you?

He just...

I guess he's too proud.

My kids are hungry.

The problem is, you can't get welfare unless you separate from your husband.

Now, all you have to do is sign the proper papers.

I could give you a food order right now if I had those papers.

And all I do is sign? That's all.


My husband said he'd kill me if I left him.

The courts would protect you.

Where are the papers? They're right here.

Now I want you to read before you sign, and then you just pay the filing fee, and the papers are served.

The fee'? How much?

$7, Mrs. Hughes.

$7? You think I'd be here if I had $7? I don't have it.

I see.


I can't pay you back.

You'll want to read this very carefully, and in six months, you'll go to court for the final decree.

This is the divorce paper? Yeah.

You can be divorced just like that?

Just like that.

"Charlotte and Sally were inside the house.

"They were laughing.

"When Willie reached the edge of the forest, "he lay down on a mound of cool, green moss.

"The moon sat like a big saucer in the sky.

"He looked up and..." What do you think happened?

A bear got him. A bear.

No, they couldn't see him anymore because night had fallen.

"And when they looked out in the morning, he was gone." Where'd he go?

Okay, get in the back seat. Come on. You be good. Play a game.

I'm proud of you, honey. It's a real good thing you're doing.

I'm kind of afraid to let go.

Stop it! Stop it!

Come on, be nice. I said it first!

I packed so fast, i don't even know if I got everything.

You'll be all right, Francine.

I said it. You're gonna be fine.

Let's sing a song, okay?

You are my sunshine? Yes.

You are my sunshine this is that stupid song!

My only sunshine you make me happy when skies are gray you'll never know, dear how much I love you please don't take my sunshine away you are my sunshine my only sunshine you make me happy...

Would you keep them on the porch?

You're going to have a baby sister. What's a good name?

Shelly. Shelly?

Hey, there. Look who's here.

How you doing? Hi there, honey.

I'm happy you're here.

My, you're getting big. Yeah. Come on in.

Hey! How you doing, Christy?

Guess what? What?

L'm pregnant again, too, myself. No kidding?

Don't show yet. Just two months.

How's Ernest and the baby? Fine.

You stay on the porch. Hey, Jimmy.

I don't believe this. Look at all these names!

My gosh.

There I am. "Gaby and Ernest."

I know.

There's Vic and Lois.

There's the twins, Terry and Tommy.

My gosh, where are all these people?

Seems like another world, don't it?


I heard the divorce is going through.

I didn't know what else to do.

I thought he'd be by, but he hasn't. I heard he has another girl.

You're just down, Fran.

You did your best.

Mickey has that real bad temper. He always did.

But he loves me.

Maybe this'll be the best one yet.



I seen her.

Berlin was just saying he can't tell which one of you she looks more like.

Well, you look fine, Francine.

She was a pretty easy birth.

What you calling her?

I don't know. Maybe Nicole.

From the soap opera, remember?

Them was good days.

Ain't you gonna ask about Mickey?

Well, he's just fine. He's got himself all straightened out.

He's working.

Now, when are you two gonna get back together and be a family like you ought to?

We're divorced.

You just had his child, Francine. That ain't no divorce.

Your children need their father.

I did it for the children.

He's changed now.

Don't you love him no more, Francine?

Woman's got to take the bitter with the sweet, you know.

Mickey loves you, Francine, something awful.

He wants to see his children.

I'm afraid.

He won't hurt you, honey.

Now, he stayed away 'cause you wanted it, but it's wrong to keep a father from his own children.

This ain't no use talking to her.

Yes, it is.

She heard me.

Looking great.

Care if I come in? Yeah.

You do all this yourself?

You run a great household.

That your chicken? Yeah.

I've been missing your cooking.

Missing you.

You working?

I'm all straightened out.

You want to see the baby? Yeah.

Look at that.

Looks like Christy, huh?

Hey, here's your papa.

Gaby will be bringing the kids home any minute.

I can't wait around to see them, though.

Hey, Fran, I want us to get back together.

We're divorced, Mickey.

A thousand divorces can't change anything. You're mine.

I don't want to go back.

I don't want it the way it was.


Nobody knows me like you do.

Go on, tell me you ain't missed me.

Yeah, I missed you.

It'll be a lot better this time.

I promise.

It's over.

You know, I can come and go as much as I want.

Just leave, Mickey.

Christy, don't run. Christy.


I knowed you'd come!

He's hurt real bad, Francine.

He went through a stop light and got hit by a telephone truck.

Oh, no.

They're flying a surgeon in from Chicago. Some kind of specialist.

He don't want me nor no one. I gotta go to the bathroom.

He just keeps calling for you.

How bad is he?

He's real bad. The doc says he may not make it.

-L've got to go to the bathroom bad! -L'll take him. I'll take him.

Come on. Let's go, boy.

He's all busted up inside.

I come to spare you. You go get you some sleep.

Rest of 'em is in the waiting room.

He still doesn't know me, wimpy.

It's a wonder he knows anything at all. He was awful close to death.

Doctor says it's a miracle.

I got to hand it to you, Francine.

We sure didn't think much of you divorcing Mick, but you're okay in a pinch.

We're glad you're back.


I'm gonna stay a little while longer.

I thought, "my god, he's never gonna make it."

When I took his hand, he started to cry. I did, too.

I stood there thinking how awful it was. Nobody deserved this.



That's real good.

No, my bed isn't too hard.

What's the matter, honey?

I can't hear you.

I'm hugging you too over the phone.

I hope I see you soon, too.

I love you.

Gaby kept telling me not to go back.

But I felt I owed it to Mickey to help nurse him.

So when flossie said the place next door was empty, I decided to move in.

You want to talk to my mom?

I decided if I'm going to help Mickey get better, I might as well be close by.

I owe him that. Mom, it's for you.

You owe him nothing.

Hello, I'm busy. I'll have to call you back.

You didn't see him in the hospital. He nearly died.

I wish he had.

My gosh, that was a terrible thing to say.

I'm sure glad Ernest didn't hear me.

Be careful.

You know, Francine, sometimes I think that's the only way you're going to get rid of him.

We're divorced, Gaby.

Anyway, he's gonna live over there with flossie.

Soon as he's better, I'm on my way.

You're really fooling yourself, Francine.

Thanks for helping me get settled.

Against my betterjudgment.

They're here! Mommy, mommy, they're here!

Daddy! I missed you!

The kids were so happy to see Mickey when he came home from the hospital.


The doctors weren't sure whether he'd ever be the same.

Wait, is Fran coming?

You'll feel better as soon as we get your dressing changed.

I thought, "how could I leave?

"What would the kids think if I walked away and left their father?"


Fran, come here!

Hey, Fran!

Mom, daddy says he wants you, and he wants you now.

I know. I can hear him.

Come on, Fran! Come here!

Mickey wants you to change his dressing.

He can change it himself. Doctor said he's got to learn.

Do it for me, Fran.

Don't seem like anybody can do anything right for him but you.

Look at him. He's been home over a month, and he's still lying around.

The doctor said he should be up trying to walk.

How's he going to get better if you keep babying him?

This is my house. I don't think you ought to take that tone with me.

I'm sorry. I'm tired.

I've got three babies at home to take care of, and him over here...

He won't do anything for himself.

I'm going home. I'm going to stay. I can't take it any longer.


You can't stay.

How about a nice welcome?


You ain't staying, Mickey.

Well, who's gonna stop me?

We're divorced. The welfare. Come on.

Hey, come on, Fran.

It's time I came home.

Things are getting out of line here.

Any more'? No.

Put 'em down. You want to help me fold 'em?

L'm hungry-

I'll have supper ready in a little while.

That's not what I'm hungry for.


-L'm all better now. The kids.

Let's get married again.

No, it wouldn't work. Sure, it would.

You're mine, Fran. A thousand divorces can't take that away.

No, Mickey.

Hey, you think I'm not man enough for you?

I think you're gonna be just fine.

I'm fine now.

It don't work no more, Mickey.

Stop that! Stop it! Don't do it!

Go get grandma! Nobody's gonna help you now!



Don't hurt me! Stop!

Don't! Don't!


Who'd want to be married to you, anyway?

Boy, you got a problem.

Get out of my way. Come here!

Fran? Where are you?

We got him calmed down, ma'am.

Says he's not going to bother you anymore.

You're not going to take him away?

Sorry, ma'am, but we didn't see him do anything, so we're not allowed to make an arrest.

Well, you can go to the prosecutor's office in the morning and swear out a complaint.


Would you like me to take you to the hospital?


Got a little drunk.

Guess I'm not all well yet.

Frannie, I'm humbling myself.

Sorry. I won't do that no more.

Don't ever hit me again in front of my kids, or anyone.

Your kids?

I'll leave you. I'll take the kids and go.

You ain't going no place.

Get that idea right out of your head.

Wherever you went, I'd find you. Then you know what would happen?

Yeah, you're gonna stay right here,

or those kids ain't gonna have no mother. Understand?


Francine, in all my research, i haven't found a single precedent that would support a plea of self-defense, so this is what I recommend.

Forget self-defense, and we change the plea to not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.

You mean crazy?

No, I mean, if I can get expert testimony as to your state of mind at the time of the murder, we may have a chance.

Now, you'll have to see a number of psychiatrists.

Are you willing to do that?

The next couple of years were just about the best we had.

Mickey calmed down a little, even let me apply to college.

And the kids getting older made everything easier.

Let me have that Crescent wrench.

One wrench. Thanks.

I need that ball-peen hammer.

Here's the hammer, daddy. Thanks.

Where'd you guys go yesterday? The store.

What did you get? We needed some milk and bread.

Where's that hammer? I need the hammer.

It's right there. Daddy!


Daddy, you're all dirty. So?

You're making me all dirty.

I love your mom. I love my mom, too.

Come on.

Oh, no! Come on.

I'll teach you.

Expecting something? No.

Mickey Hughes, Mickey Hughes.

Francine Hughes.

Thought you weren't expecting anything. -L'm not.

"This is to confirm that you..."

It's a check! From the government! I got the Grant!

They'll give me money to go to business school.

You're not going to school.

If I get a degree, I could get a job.

I could just go in the mornings, and I'd be home by the time the kids got back.

I could still take care of the house.

If I don't go, we don't get the money.

In the beginning, I was afraid to even open my mouth in class.

But little by little, I felt better.

I liked to pretend the other part of my life didn't even exist.

One of each, please.

Thank you.

No, thank you.

I swear, Fran, you hardly eat anything.

Just because you eat enough for both of us.

You want to go shopping after class? We're going to the mall.

I can't. My husband needs the car.

Hiya, Henry.

You remember Henry. Yeah. Hi, Henry.

Henry here protects our school, don't you, Henry?


Henry eckworth. Hi. Francine Hughes.

Pleased to meet you.

Mickey started complaining more and more about me going to school.

I was afraid he was going to try to make me stop.

He got drunk one night and started in on me and the kids, so I packed the kids in the car.

You looking for this?

Every time I'd try to run away, he'd catch me, and things would get worse.

Mickey, stop it!




I'll kill you! I'll kill you!

Get your hands off him!

Get off that boy! Stay back!

You're hurting him!

Get off him!

Get back!

Get your hands off him, I tell you!

Get off him! Get off him!

Stop! Leave him alone!

Leave that boy alone!

It's been going on too long now.

Something awful's gonna happen.

You're family.

You've got to help us.

She's right.

It ain't Mickey's fault, nor Francine's, either.

He just ain't right.

Never has been right since that crash.

I ain't gonna sit here and listen to this talk.

It's true, Berlin. I knowed it that night in the hospital, the minute he pushed my hand away.

It's for Mickey, too.

He's got to be sent someplace where he can get some help.

And the children.

There's no son of mine is going to no mental ward.

Not whilst I'm alive to stop it.

Sit down, Berlin. I know what's right.

I think you're all being awfully hard on Mickey.

-L'm leaving. You ain't.

You watch me.

Berlin stayed away for three weeks. Flossie just crumbled.

She took to her bed and stayed there until he came back.

We never discussed committing Mickey again.

I knew I was totally on my own now.

So, how can I help you, Mrs. Hughes? Last night, my...

My ex-husband tried to kill me.

He hit a police officer.

Come on, let's go. Could we go, please?

I see by the records he's on probation.

Have you been in touch with his probation officer, Mrs. Hughes?

No, sir.

Well, don't worry. Since he's on probation, he'll automatically...

I want to go see daddy. -...Be picked up.

Put it back.

Come here. Come over here. Move over.

Mom! When?

I can't say when.

As I've said, he's violated his probation by assaulting a police officer.

He'll serve time for that.

Could I fill out a complaint? You know, for attempted murder?

I'm afraid he's going to kill me.

I don't know what else to do.

I'm going to have to let probation handle it.

But come back to see us if there's any more trouble.

Let's go.

My name is Francine Hughes. Stop it.

I'm at a pay phone in Lansing with my kids.

Stop it. Stop it!

I don't have any money.

Stop it. Mom, could you take her?

My ex-husband who's on probation beat me up.

He threatened to kill me. I need some protection.

I'm sorry. Stop it!

I'm sorry. I need some protection.


Take her. Take her.


Well, he's home right now. I'm afraid to even go there.

Pick it up. I want to go home!

I want to go home! I don't want to!

I want to go home!

A couple of days? I want to go home!

Stop it! -L'm working on this. No!

Stop it! I want to go home!

Mom, we need help.

Good night. Good night.

Love you. I love you.

Everything's gonna be all right.

Good night. Good night.

Sweet dreams.

See you tomorrow. Okay.

Love you. Love you.

Let me in! I just want my kids!

Give me my kids! I'll break this door in your face!

He's here right now.

Could you please send some help? I want those kids! Let me in!

The police are on their way. Get away from here!

What'll they do?

Let me in! No!

I just want my kids!

Maybe just for now you ought to let him have the kids.

He'd never hurt 'em.

Give me those kids, or I'll break this door on your face!

It'll calm him down.

Please, Francine, i can't take any more. I just can't.

Oh, god.

Flossie will be real good to 'em, honey.

And you can get 'em back later.

Come on, kids, let's go.

Francine, want something to eat, honey?

I can't. I have to get going.

I've got to get some help before my money runs out.

Got to do something about Mickey.

It was wrong to let him take the kids.

We had no choice.

I've got to get some gas before I go to Lansing.

Wish me luck.

I sure do, honey.

You could get my kids back.

You could keep my husband from doing anything he pleases to me.

That's a police matter, Mrs. Hughes. Maybe you should hire a lawyer, and sue your husband for the custody of your children.

Custody? They're my children!

I think something has to be done now before he gets drunk and kills me.

Lots of women leave the state just to get away.

I can't do that.

I don't have a car. I don't have any money. I can't leave my children!

I'm getting aid to dependent children, and he's not supposed to be living with me, but he won't get out.

That's breaking the law, isn't it?

Yes, but the only thing that this department can do is take your welfare away.

And where would your children be without that?

I don't have my kids. He has my kids.

All I want is my kids back.

I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do for you.

Why don't you throw away all his clothes and lock the door?

Or you could get a peace bond and keep him away.

And then, if he beats you... After he beats me. After.

I know how you feel, but you see, Mrs. Hughes, if we take action, the only one we can prosecute is you.

You don't know how I feel.

I'm not coming, Mickey. I don't care what you promise.

Fine. Go ahead.

I'm not gonna do it.

Okay, send the kids over to your mother, -go in the bathroom, and lock the door. He really sounded...

What? He really sounded sorry.

Don't call me anymore!

Hi, honey.

How are you?

No, I love you, too.

Okay, it's time for you to go to bed.

I love you.


It's almost time for church, honey.

Just a second, mama. I've just got to finish this.

Mommy! Come here!

Mommy! Mom!

Oh, god!

How are you doing? Good.

Hi, Fran. The kids wanted to see you.

Don't worry. We won't stay long.

It's okay.

Want some coffee? We're just getting ready to go to church.

Well, we won't keep you.

Fran, I want to talk to you. Come on, kids.

Come here, partner.


Really, you don't have to come back. I'm not even going to ask you.

I just want to tell you I quit drinking.

And I'm going to church.

I did all those things to you because of the drinking.

It'll never happen again.

That's real fine, Mickey. I made up my mind I'm not coming back.

The kids miss you something awful.

Children need a mother and a father both.

Soon as I get a job and I get settled, I'm going to come get the kids.

Fran, I love those kids. I'll never give them up.

Give them up? I'm their mother. If I have to, Mickey, I'll get a lawyer.

Mom, you should have seen the breakfast i made for everyone.

And I took the laundry down to the laundromat.

Such a good girl.

Lot of responsibility for a little child.

I'm real sorry you won't be coming with us.

I guess you've made up your mind.

You've got your reasons, but it's a crying shame, 'cause he's doing his best.

Come on, kids, let's get in the car.

I miss you.

Bye, mom! I love you, mom.

I love you.

Please, Fran. It'll be different this time.

I love you.

I want you with me and the kids.

I'll never take another drink.

If I do, you can leave.

Bye, morn!

Bye, mommy! Don't miss me!


You will also hear the testimony of Christy Hughes and her brother James Hughes.

They will tell you that they observed the fight.

They will also tell you that the fight ended, that James Berlin Hughes went to bed in the bedroom, and that somewhere between a half an hour and two hours after he went to bed, Francine Hughes told them to put on their coats, that as they were going to the car, they both saw a gas can sitting on the back porch, which they had not seen earlier that day.

Shortly thereafter, Francine Hughes came out of the house, got into the car, and started to drive away.

After all the evidence has been presented to you, we will ask that you find the defendant guilty as charged.

Guilty of premeditated murder.

Now I'm going to ask you to put yourself in the place of Francine Hughes, and when she tells you about what she experienced, about the inhuman situation she found herself in, try your hardest to put yourself in her place, to see all the circumstances from her point of view.

Francine Hughes is not a cold-blooded killer.

When you hear the history of Francine Hughes, when you hear her human situation, you will enter a verdict of not guilty at the conclusion of this case.

Now, you indicated that Mickey Hughes made repeated threats to kill Francine.

He said specifically, as I recall your testifying, that it was "all over for her"?

My question is this, officer, why didn't you take him away?

Because he made the same threats to me, and they didn't seem like...

They were just words.

I see.

On what did you base this conclusion?

That he had an opportunity while he was threatening me to back it up, but he didn't.

Do you put yourself in the same position, sir, with your uniform and gun? I assume you were wearing your gun.

Yeah, that's right. I had a gun.

Are you equating your situation with Francine's?

Wasn't it quite obvious to you that he wasn't going to be doing anything while you were still there?

I didn't assume that, no.

Mrs. Hughes, do you see the person known to you as Francine Hughes in the courtroom here today?

Yes, sir, I do.

Mrs. Hughes, she was married to one of your sons?

Yes, sir.

Which son was that?

My son James.

We called him Mickey.

I'm sorry.

I'm all right. I'm fine.

Around the time of march 9th, 1977, how would you say Mickey and Francine were getting along?

I thought everything was just as good with them as anybody else.

I knew they had a few problems.

You know, like anybody, they had disagreements or maybe financial problems or stuff, but nothing unusual, nothing that bothered me or concerned me.

Was there ever an occasion, Mrs. Hughes, when you saw your son strike Francine Hughes?


Never have I ever seen any of my sons strike one of their wives.

Mrs. Hughes, do you recall the children ever telling you about their father beating up on their mother?

Well, the children came over a couple of times, and they would say, "my mommy and daddy is fighting."

I see. They wouldn't say, "my daddy is beating up on my mom."

I suppose they have said that.

On August 12th of 1972, at approximately 14 minutes after 7:00, do you recall a situation where the police came to your house because your son had repeatedly hit you in the face?

I most certainly do not!

I don't know where you're getting your information from.

Okay. I most certainly do not!

Mrs. Hughes, do you recall when you called the lngham county sheriff's department, and on that occasion, Francine Hughes hid in your house?

Hid in my house? Well, she had hid in our house sometimes.

She done that even before they got married.

I didn't know whether they was fighting or playing games or what.

And who was she hiding from? Her children?

Well, I don't know.

Maybe she was hiding from him.

Afterwards, she'd say, "mom, it's more my fault than it is his."

Mrs. Hughes, don't you remember the police coming to your house when Francine was hiding from Mickey because, among other things, he had been beating on her?

I do not recall no such an occasion.

Do you recall telling the policemen that Mickey Hughes had hit you repeatedly?

No, sir. Do you recall him breaking down the door to try to get into your house to get after her?

He didn't break down no door. He did not!

Mrs. Hughes, I'm merely asking you.

Well, you just better ask something else, 'cause he didn't break down my doors.

You sure got you some good information. Excuse me.

You better go back and get you some more.

Now, Christy, what was he saying to your mother during this evening?

You mean, you want to know what kinds of things he said?

I want to know what he said, yes.

Well, he called her a whore, and he...

Tell me.

I'm sorry you have to say this, Christy, but you tell us what he said to her.

He called her a bitch and a whore.

Did your mom seem depressed or happy or normal or what?


Now, Christy, is this the first time that you remember that your father beat up on your mother?


Was it the second time? No.

Was it the third time? No.

How about the fourth or fifth time? No.

How many times did your father beat up on your mother?

Too many to count.

Do you remember your father grabbing your mother by the arms, bending them up behind her back?

Do you remember showing the policeman that?


Christy, do you remember telling them that your dad hit her in the face and hit her in the head?


Like this? I don't know.

Usually with the back of his hand, or his fist, or the front of his hand.

Just any old way, right? Right.

Did your mother ever try to get away, get away with you and the children, the other children?

Many times. Many times?

And do you remember where you went?

Usually to grandma Hazel moran in Jackson. Her house.

And what would happen on those occasions that you would go to Jackson?

He would come and threaten to, like, bust down the door and break things if she...

What did he say he would do if she tried to leave?

He would kill her.

He said that if she left with you, he would kill her?


How many times did he tell her that?

Two or three. I don't know.


how do you feel about your father being gone?

You miss your father?


Are you glad that he's gone?

Objection. Sustained.

That is all I have, your honor.

The defense calls Francine Hughes.

Why didn't you leave? At first I didn't because...

Feeling the way I did about him being, you know, such a young man and not being able to work or anything,

what more could I take away from him?

Could I take the kids and leave?

And I knew if I did, he'd find me.

March 9th, 1977 wasn't the first time he threatened to kill you.

Did you believe those threats?

When he first started making them, I didn't, but when he started chasing me and trying to run me off the road and stuff like that, I believed him.

In the last year, I had come to believe that sooner or later he would.

I was afraid.

Very afraid.

And it was like he just wanted to possess me.

Francine, you've said that your children are the most important thing in the world to you.

In that context, I'd like to ask you if you remember an incident which occurred some time ago.


Could you tell us what happened?

The kids kept begging for a puppy, and some people we knew gave us one.

The kids called her lady.

It was real cold when we brought her home, but Mickey wouldn't let her in.

So our neighbor gave us an old, raggedy doghouse, and we fixed it up behind the garage and put straw in it to keep the puppy warm.

Did there come a time when the dog was going to have puppies?

Yes, she was going to have puppies before she was a year old.

When she got ready to have them, she was acting really sick, and they wouldn't come out.

We asked Mickey if we could take her to the veterinarian, but he wouldn't let us.

The kids were crying, and they were running in and out, crying, "another one came out. It's dead."

They begged Mickey to let us bring her inside because it was cold out, but he wouldn't, so we tried to sneak her in on the back porch.

He found out, and he put her out. She was bleeding.

What happened to the dog?

When I went out later, she was dead.

She was lying on the ground.

When the kids came out, they said, "mama, she's frozen."

So the dog froze to death after giving birth to those puppies?


Now, Francine,

we're going to march 9th, 1977.

Could you tell me how that day started out?

Like any other day.

I got up at 5:30 and started to get ready to go to school.

When I got to school, I felt really good.

By the time I got home, I was kind of tired.

You're late!

Five minutes. Had to give a girl a ride home.

And now you're going to give her a ride every day?

No, she has a regular ride. I won't do it again.

And I need your help. Save me! Save me! Please!

I'll save you.

What did you get this for? -'Cause we were all out.

What's for dinner? There's no meat in here. There's nothing!

I got some TV dinners.

You know I don't like them.

I didn't think you were gonna eat here anyway.

That's the trouble with you. You're always thinking.

I don't even want to smell that stuff cooking.

Come on, go outside! Go on!

That's another trouble. School!

You're not gonna go there anymore!

I'm not gonna quit.

Let me just feed the kids, and then I'll fix you something else later.

No. No. No.

No school.

I'm not gonna quit school.

I can fix you so you'll never go back.

Go ahead, then!



Leave me alone!

I was just thinking, maybe I should just say, "I'm going to quit school," get him quieted down, and then figure out later how to go back.

But I couldn't.

Something rose up in me and said no.

"If you say it, Mickey will win just like he always has, "and you'll never go back to school again."

I went back inside, and Mickey started punching me.

And Christy went over to flossie's to call the police.

Was he hitting you when the police pulled up, Francine?


When he realized they were gonna come, he went into the living room and sat down.

And what happened after the policemen left?

I had the kids wash, and we sat down to eat.

I remember my lip was stinging with the salt where he had hit me.

We were trying to be quiet, and he was sitting in the living room.

And then he came into the kitchen to get a beer.

Clean it up! Clean it up!

Get down!

That's right. That's right! That's right!

What about school? What about the school, school, school?

No. No. I won't go.


You went up to the bedroom to clear Mickey's dinner dishes.

He was there. What happened?

He said, "how about a little?"

What did that mean?

He wanted to have sex.

Why didn't you just say no?

I knew if I refused, he'd start again.

I didn't want to go through it.

The kids were hungry. They were crying and stuff.

And I was worried about them, so I did.

How did it make you feel?

That I might vomit.

I hated it worse than I ever hated it before.


he was drunk, it took a long time.

After he went to sleep, I got dressed,

and I told the kids they could come out.

What was going through your mind, Francine?

It's hard to describe how I felt.

I was thinking that...

Well, I was thinking about all the things that had happened to me.

How much he hurt me my whole life.

And I thought about school.

All that work for nothing.

Whatever I did, Mickey would knock it down.

And then I thought about my kids, and how their lives were as terrible as mine.

I thought, "take 'em away. Just leave.

"And when Mickey wakes up, you and the kids will be gone.

"When Mickey wakes up, you and the kids will be gone."


What's happening?

What's going on? The house is burning!

Okay, Francine, let's go through this again.

You waited till Mickey fell asleep, is that right?

Right? Yes.

Then you took the kids out to the car, right?

You got the gasoline out of the garage, and you came back into the house, right?

Then you poured the gasoline around the bed, and then you lit a match and ran to the car, right?

Right? Yes.

Okay, the kids were in the car, and they were scared and crying, and you started driving away.

Francine, what were you doing? Where were you going?

I ran for my life. I ran for the life of my kids.

Francine, did you premeditate and plan the death of your husband, Mickey Hughes?


The defense rests.

The jury's in.

You're wanted downstairs.

Has the jury reached a verdict? We have, your honor.

We find the defendant not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.

Very well, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your service in this matter.

And I thank each and every one of you...

Mrs. Hughes will be set free immediately.