James E. Hughes

James E. Hughes, a Lieutenant with the Pittsburgh Police Department, was shot and killed after he responded to a grocery store robbery on December 27, 1929. He was the first Black officer to be feloniously killed on duty in Allegheny County history.


Dennie Wilkins and Charles Ricks, Jr, both Black and both from the Hill District, were convicted of first-degree murder in 1930.

In both cases, the jury recommended they be sentenced to life imprisonment. A third suspect, John Franklin, escaped to Mississippi and was not apprehended.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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