CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island man serving a life sentence for the murder of an elderly man in 1982 will remain behind bars for at least another five years.
The Rhode Island Parole Board announced it unanimously denied parole for James Hughes III following a hearing Monday morning.
The 70-year-old, whose last request was denied back in 2017, will be eligible to go before the board a ninth time in March 2028, according to Parole Board Administrator Matthew Degnan.
Hughes was convicted of killing Howard “Zeke” Harris at Harris’ furniture store in North Kingstown. Hughes was caught by Harris looking through his desk for money and, when confronted, beat Harris to death with a hammer.
Harris’ three granddaughters—Krista Rousseau, Cynthia Haggarty and Bethanie Sherman—all made victim impact statements to the parole board on Monday.
“The thought of my grandfather’s last moments of life in absolute terror and confusion will haunt me ’til the day I die. That is my life sentence,” Rousseau said.
“I regret to say I didn’t even recognize my own grandfather in the funeral home,” Haggarty added.
Sherman was there when police found her grandfather’s body inside the store on Sep. 15, 1982.
“I heard a God-awful scream, one I had never heard before,” Sherman recalled. “My father, along with police, found my grandfather, dead, bleeding from the head, unrecognizable.”
The family said the parole board hearings bring up feelings of grief, anxiety and fear.
“I shudder to think of his parole approval,” Haggarty said.
The family also said Hughes has never shown remorse. They don’t believe he can be rehabilitated.
“A lifetime of no behavioral changes, or even willingness to turn his life around, is troublesome,” Haggarty noted.
The granddaughters hope someday their beloved grandfather won’t be remembered for his death, but for everything he did for those around him.
“There are so many people that he helped in his life in big and small ways,” Rousseau said. “We’ll never know how many.”