Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Case of Preston Hughes III: Floor Plan

It's now time to turn our attention to Preston Hughes' apartment and the search thereof. I've prepared a floor plan of his apartment based on a sketch created by Officer F.L. Hale (and provided to me by Barbara Lunsfordand some dimensions provided by Officer Hale in his HPD report. Here's my source material, sketch first then text.

The front door to the apartment faces to the west and opens into a small foyer. To the north of the foyer is the kitchen. This kitchen is approximatley [sic] 7 feet 5 inches by 6 feet. On the north end of the kitchen is the dining room, which is approximately 7 feet 8 inches by 9 feet 9 inches. At the southwest corer of the dining room is an opening to the living room. The foyer also leads to the living room. The living room is approximately 12 feet 4 inches by 15 feet 6 inches. On the southwest corner of the living room is a hallway which lead [sic] to the two bedroom [sic] at the south end of apartment. Along the east wall of the hallway is a bath room, approximately 5 feet by 10 feet. In the southwest corner of the apartment is the master bedroom. This room is approximately 11 feet 8 inches by 14 feet 19 inches. The closet is in the at the [sic] northeast corner. The second beroom [sic] is in the southwest corner of the apartment an [sic] is approximatly [sic] 11 feet 4 inches by 14 feet 1 inch.
Officer Hale's dimensions are only approximatley approximatly approximately correct. I was not able to completely reconcile them with the 6 straight sides of the apartment perimeter. Based on Hale's dimensions, the outside walls of the rooms would not have lined up so nicely.

Here's the floor plan I put together based on Sgt. Hale's information.

Hopefully, the floor plan will help you orient yourself as we follow Officer Hale's footsteps when he photographed the items in the apartment.

The floor plan has already helped me narrow down which of the apartments Preston Hughes lived in. I know that his bedroom windows looked south at the Lakewood Village apartments. His apartment was somewhere along the southernmost row of the Lakehurst apartments. I therefore took the floor plan I created, scaled it, rotated it, modified the perspective, and overlaid it on a Google satellite view to see which of the apartments matched.

You must click to enlarge if you hope to have any decent chance of seeing my floor plan laying atop the two possible apartments. Note that the view is from the north, looking south.

There are four upper and four lower units on the second building from the left, just beneath the fence. Either one of two of those upper units could have been (and must have been) Preston's apartment. I provide an enlargement of that building to make my point (and my floor plan) more apparent.

To help you better orient yourselves, I turn once again to Frankenmap.

I added the oval to show which building Preston lived in. Note that in this view, north is to the top of the screen.

As I understand it, there was a bus stop at the corner of Westheimer Boulevard (southernmost road in Frankenmap) and Crescent Park Drive (easternmost road in Frankenmap). Preston, when coming home from work, normally got off the bus at Westheimer and Crescent Park. In other words, he got off at the lower right corner of Frankenmap. He then walked up Crescent Park Drive to his apartment. He did not cut through the field. It would have been well out of the way.

On the night of the murder, he slept through his stop then caught a cab ride to the parking lot of his apartment complex. Once again, there was no need for him to cut through the field.

In the next post in this series, we will begin exploring the interior of his apartment, and view the evidence as the HPD claims to have found it.

ADDENDUM (26 July 2012):
Reader anonymous comments by asking multiple pointed questions.
Tsj,The argument you have presented this far is compelling. Why hasn't or wont an innocence project pick up this case? 
Is it because there was evidence that Shandra was raped and PH had been accused of rape twice before? 
Also, why did Preston say on the stand that he walked through that path that night? 
Is your arguement that he is legally innocent but not actually innocent?
I provide my somewhat lengthy response in this addendum rather than in the comments.

Most people gave not a passing thought that Preston might actually be innocent until Barbara Lunsford began researching and writing about his case. The evidence is seemingly overwhelming. Someone had to first see through that. That person was Barbara Lunsford. I became interested in the case because of her writing. 
As far as I know, Preston had been accused of rape once before, not twice. He pled guilty, he argues to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. I suspect, as I explained in The Big Sleep, that is why the police homed in on him so quickly. 
Regarding Preston being in the field that night, you anticipate what I will be writing of when I get around to discussing his confessions. Preston was in the field that night. I have argued only that he did not walk through the field on his way home from work, as some readers suggested he may have. 
Careful readers of my blog, Preston's blog, and Barbara's Mystery Crime Scene know that Preston explains that after he arrived home, he took his dog for a walk in that field. I will have additional details about his walk in that field later in the series, when I talk about his confession.
I accept that Preston is legally guilty. That's why he's on death row. He was found guilty by a jury, and his trial has been ruled constitutionally acceptable by all appellate courts so far. 
I believe that Preston is actually innocent. 
I write all the time about people who are legally guilty but actually innocent. 
So that you are aware, I do not throw myself so thoroughly into cases where I do not believe the person to be actually innocent. I am deeply involved in two other cases where I have committed myself to seeing someone freed. Those two cases already demand much of my time. I didn't realize when I started writing about Hughes that I would be so thoroughly drawn in. Now I overwhelmed.

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