Hughes denies role in 2007 Belle Plains slaying
BY KEITH EPPS / THE FREE LANCE–STAR
William Hughes told a Stafford County jury Wednesday that he had nothing to do with the 2007 slaying of Jason Plaster and has no idea why two people he considered friends claimed that he did.
Taking the stand during the third day of his murder trial in Stafford Circuit Court, the 45-year-old Hughes admitted that he had spoken with Plaster about making advances toward his wife and his daughter, but said that issue had been resolved prior to Plaster’s death.
Plaster’s remains were unearthed last March following a several day excavation operation at 881 Belle Plains Road in southern Stafford. The operation began after the property owner, Dennis Benzie, told police that Plaster had been shot, killed and buried there sometime in the summer of 2007.
Benzie and Stuart Sullivan both testified Tuesday that they were with Hughes when Plaster was killed. They said Hughes was upset about Plaster “hitting on” his wife.
Both men said that Hughes fired the initial shot with a Derringer and that Sullivan followed with a 9mm shot of his own.
There was a 9 mm bullet in the back of his skull and a bullet wound in his ribs. A medical examiner has determined that either wound could have been fatal.
There were a number of differences the two co-defendants’ stories as well. Sullivan said he knew nothing about a plot to kill Plaster until Hughes shocked him by shooting him.
Sullivan said he followed suit because Hughes, his boss at the time and the president of a Warlock Motorcycle club chapter, told him to. Sullivan said he feared that Hughes would harm him and his family if he didn’t obey.
Benzie said he, Hughes and Sullivan discussed killing Plaster shortly before it was done. He said they lured him into the woods under the pretense of digging up some guns that were buried.
Both men said it appeared that Plaster was dead before Sullivan shot him. All three men participated in digging a hole and burying Plaster, according to both stories.
Hughes denied both men’s accounts. Asked by prosecutor Lori DiGiosia why his good friend Benzie would finger him, Hughes said, “I have no idea.”
Stafford Detective Chris Cameron said that in an interview last year, Hughes mentioned Plaster’s name before the detective had said anything about him.
Hughes explained that he had already heard a number of rumors involving him and that someone had already told him that Plaster was the person whose body was found.
The trial was scheduled for three days, but it appeared Wednesday that it would almost certainly go into a fourth day Thursday.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404