Name: Wilson Deontrez Hughes
Victim: Arick Johnathon Strauser, 18
Age at time of murder: 16
Crime date: July 23, 2016
Crime location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Partners in crime: Several other teens
Murder method: Beating
Convictions: Guilty plea to first degree manslaughter
Sentence: 50 years in prison with 20 years suspended
Hughes and several other teens viciously beat Arick to the point where he was unrecognizable and left him under a garbage can. They returned several times over the next couple of hours to attack him more, with Hughes running over him with a bike and another assailant urinating on his face. They beat Arick so badly that his skull was separated from his neck. The attackers later posted a video of the crime on SnapChat. Only Hughes was held responsible. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison with 20 years suspended.
On July 23, 2016, Arick was brutally beaten to death by a gang of over a half dozen teens, including Hughes. Hughes punched Arick 10-12 times in the face and then kicked him in the ribs after he fell to the ground. He continued kicking Arick as he lay unresponsive. Arick suffered a burn and many contusions, abrasions, and lacerations. The beating left him unrecognizable. The gang tried to stuff Arick in a garbage can, but he wouldn’t fit. They ended up leaving him under the garbage can, but returned multiple times over the next couple hours. Hughes ran over Arick with a bike and another assailant urinated on his face. Arick died of atlanto-occipital dislocation, otherwise known as internal decapitation–he suffered so much blunt force that his skull was separated from his neck. The perpetrators later posted a video of Arick’s beating to SnapChat.
Hughes pled guilty to first degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 50 years in prison with 20 years suspended. When sentencing Hughes, the judge heard about his rough upbringing. Aimee responded by noting that people who have faced similar circumstances did not end up “murdering somebody.” She also said: “Free will is a choice in this life, you want to have a life, I’m sure my son wanted to have a life too.”
Hughes later requested a sentence modification, which Aimee called “a slap in the face” to her son. “Sitting here listening to how great Wilson is doing…got me thinking how great Arick’s life would be,” Aimee said.”Seems like Arick got swept under the rug. Where do we get to petition to get out of the hell we’re in?” The judge ruled that Hughes hadn’t matured enough to get a new sentence.
Written by an NOVJM volunteer.