Arkansas widow guilty in mate's death; his porn set her off, lawyer says

Patricia Hill is shown in this photo released by the Jefferson County sheriff's office.

PINE BLUFF -- A Pine Bluff woman was found guilty of second-degree murder Tuesday night in Jefferson County for the 2018 shooting death of her husband, who had angered her by subscribing to a pornographic satellite channel.

Patricia Hill, 69, faces up to 45 years in prison for shooting 65-year-old Frank Hill on July 28.

The trial moved on to the penalty phase late Tuesday night.

Patricia Hill, whom prosecutors had charged with capital murder, faced a mandatory life sentence. However, the lesser charge -- second-degree murder -- carries a sentence ranging from six to 30 years with the possible addition of 15 years for the use of a firearm.

According to defense attorney Bill James of Little Rock, Hill flew into a rage that rendered her incapable of appreciating her actions the day of the murder after finding a $30 charge on the couple's Dish Network bill for a subscription to a pornographic channel. She had discovered the subscription a month earlier and canceled it.

According to Hill's testimony, she confronted her husband about the subscription and told him not to subscribe to the channel again.

According to her testimony, her husband responded, "What does it hurt?"

James said Patricia Hill -- after years of neglect and humiliation, and suffering from depression -- flew into an uncontrollable rage upon seeing the bill and shot and killed Frank Hill.

Dr. James Moneypenny, a Little Rock psychologist, said Patricia Hill was suffering from acute dissociative reaction to a stressful event, which rendered her incapable of knowing right from wrong.

"Her mind was empty," Moneypenny said. "There was nothing going through it. She was overwhelmed."

He said her discovery of the Dish Network bill was "explained by the concept of the last straw."

In her testimony, she described a marriage that was initially close. But over time, the couple drifted apart to the point that they spent little time together, she said.

She said her husband began spending most of his time in a shed in the back of their home, his "man cave."

"He was sitting out in the shed drinking beer and watching TV, football or whatever he was doing out there," she said. "He had his pee bucket out there."

She testified that before they married 17 years ago, she found pornographic tapes and magazines in his home and threw them away.

"I told him that was something I could not tolerate," she testified. "I thought after we got married that it would go away."

Hill said she also found pornographic tapes in the home they had together on Donaldson Drive in Pine Bluff. She said she was worried that her grandchildren would find the materials, which she called "adultery with pictures."

Attorney Holden Raines, arguing for the prosecution, said that although Hill was under the stress of a bad marriage, she was fully conscious of her actions.

He said that in her statement to police, which was played in court, Hill, an avid churchgoer and a Sunday School teacher, had said she could not tolerate pornography.

"At the end of her statement she tells you why she did it," he said. "It was something she just couldn't tolerate so she got her gun and she shot him twice."

James said he, Hill and her legal defense team were disappointed with the verdict but that it could have been much worse for his client.

"We certainly knew it was a possibility but it wasn't capital murder or first degree," James said. "I guess the true test will be the sentencing."

State Desk on 04/24/2019