An Opelika man was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of intentional murder in connection to the death of a 23-year-old in the North Antioch neighborhood in Opelika in 2017.
Vantavious Hughley, 24, of Opelika was found guilty of intentional murder by a Lee County jury Feb. 15 after testimony revealed that Hughley shot and killed Shaqueille Jones, 23, after he tried to take Jones’ gun away from him in a parking lot in North Antioch Circle on July 11, 2017, the Lee County District Attorney’s Office said.
After fleeing the scene and staying on the run for two weeks, Hughley was arrested and charged with the murder after jumping from a moving car in an attempt to further elude police, though District Attorney Pro Tem Jessica Ventiere said there wasn’t an additional charge for attempting to elude.
Despite the defense arguing that Hughley shot Jones out of self defense, the jury ultimately decided to convict Hughley on the murder charges after what Ventiere said was several hours of deliberation.
During the process of preparing for trial, the Opelika Police Department and the district attorney’s office found evidence that Hughley attempted to intimidate witnesses through threats of violence, the district attorney’s office said.
“Fear of coming forward, fear of speaking up, fear of testifying and fear of violent retaliation is a growing problem,” Ventiere said in a statement. “The District Attorney’s Office and Law Enforcement recognize the courage it takes to testify truthfully, especially after being threatened. Thankfully, in this case, the witnesses faced their fears head-on, and as a result, justice was served.”
Along with the Feb. 15 conviction, Hughley was previously charged with murder when he was a 17-year-old student at Opelika High School in 2014 after Alizah Ellis, 17, of Opelika was shot in the chest and died.
A grand jury gave an issuance of no bill and did not indict Hughley, after probable cause was found in the case, court documents show.
Hughley was also arrested and charged in connection to a 2015 robbery of a victim at gunpoint and again in 2016 for breaking and entering a motor vehicle, carrying a pistol unlawfully and being a minor in possession of alcohol.
Coupled with the conviction of Charles Waltman for attempted murder, domestic violence and kidnapping, Hughley’s conviction marks the first jury trial to be completed in 2021 in Lee County.