With both sides proclaiming innocence, a trial date was scheduled this week for a Lakeshore woman accused of stabbing her husband to death during a domestic dispute more than a year ago.
Hope Juanita Fitzhugh, 40, was transported by jailers to the Bay St. Louis courthouse but did not actually appear in Circuit Court Thursday. Her attorney, Brian Alexander, appeared before Judge Larry Bourgeois, who set an Aug. 16 trial date.
Fitzhugh is charged with murder in the death of her estranged husband, 37-year-old Gregory Fitzhugh. Hancock County sheriff’s officials said deputies found the husband dead from a stab wound to the chest after answering a disturbance call at a home on Lakeshore Road on March 12, 2009.
The Fitzhughs had been married about six years before separating, according to relatives of Gregory Fitzhugh. They had two small daughters, now 2 and 7 years old, who were present when the killing occurred.
Before the Fitzhughs separated, their Lakeshore home had reportedly been the scene of previous domestic disturbances. Hope Fitzhugh had been involved in an automobile accident several months before her husband’s death, and he had returned to the home temporarily as she convalesced.
“It was only after she was in a horrific accident that she allowed him to come stay in the house, strictly to help take care of the children,” Alexander said after Thursday’s court session. He added that his client had suffered spousal abuse in the past.
“I think she’s got good grounds for defense,” Alexander said of his client. “He had a history of abuse toward her.”
Members of Gregory Fitzhugh’s family disagreed this week, saying violence perpetrated against their son by his wife had occurred before.
“Hope has a history of violence that has followed her long before she ever me Greg,” said Gregory Fitzhugh’s sister, Teresa Majors. “It is well documented and part of the public record for anyone who would like to know the truth … domestic violence is real, but sometimes it is the woman who is the aggressor.”
Hope Fitzhugh was arrested following her husband’s death. She since has been held in jail under $1 million bond.
BY J.R. Welsh
The Sea Coast Echo