AMERICAN MONSTER ‘With Honors’ The murder of Avis Banks

Frederick and Deborah Banks provided a peaceful and loving life for their three daughters Latonya, Avis, and Fredreana in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Their idyllic close sisterhood would be destroyed, however, when one of them chose the wrong life partner.

The middle daughter, Avis, was a bookworm who had dreams of starting an affordable daycare. She made her family proud by earning a Bachelor’s degree in child development from Aukland State University, in 2001. She was the first in the family to get a Bachelor’s degree. The oldest sister Latonya got married that September.

After she graduated Avis started working as an assistant director at a daycare to help learn more about the daycare industry because she wanted to open her own daycare someday.

A year-and-a-half later, Fredreana and Avis were working out at the gym when 29-year-old Keyon Pittman approached them and started flirting with Avis. He said he was a teacher, was in school, and had a part-time job as a bartender at a Mexican restaurant.

Avis was impressed with the fact that Keyon was a hard worker, and continued to be interested in him. Soon enough, she invited him to meet her parents. Six months after they met, Keyon and Avis moved in together, which shocked her family.

In 2006, Avis announced that she was pregnant. She was living in a nice house with Keyon and working on her Master’s degree, which she was almost finished with. That year, everyone went over to Latonya’s house for Thanksgiving. At dinner, Keyon’s phone kept ringing, and he left leaving the house to talk. He said it was his mother on the phone. Eventually, the phone calls stopped. Avis had a strange, concerned look on her face that made Fredreana feel like something was off.

The girls were supposed to go Black Friday shopping, but the next day Kayon woke up early and said that he and Avis had to go to his mom’s house. That was the last time Avis’ family saw her.

On November 29, 2006, police got a 911 call from a neighbor claiming that a man had killed his wife. Officers found Avis laying on the ground in the garage. Keyon was leaning over her sobbing.

Keyon had called Avis’ family and told them that “something had happened to Avis.”

Police found that drawers were pulled out everywhere, and bathroom cabinet doors were open. It appeared to be a burglary, but nothing appeared to be taken. Police suspected this was a fake burglary.

Avis had been stapped and shot four times, including in the abdomen area. Detectives thought that this was a personal crime by someone who intended to kill both Avis and the child she was pregnant with.

Keyon claimed that he had come home from basketball practice and found Avis dead. When interrogated by detectives, Keyon seems more concerned about himself than his dead girlfriend.

Gunshot residue was found on Keyon’s clothing, but it was just minute traces that could be explained by Keyon holding Avis when he found her. Because of that, they ruled out Keyon as their suspect.

They spoke with the principal and other workers at Keyon’s school. One woman came in sobbing, she was a woman named Carla Hughes who was a language arts teacher at the school. They asked if she was crying about Avis, but she said she was upset about what happened to Keyon.

Detectives also learned that he loved his part-time job as a bartender because he got to meet a lot of women. Carla Hughes was a regular customer at the Mexican restaurant where he worked. She was more than a customer and a coworker, however, Carla and Keyon had been seeing each other. Carla’s ties to Keyon made her suspicious, but she claimed she was at home the night of Avis’ murder.

Keyon shocked Avis’ family by attending her funeral. They had not wanted him there because of what they had found out about his cheating, and the family also suspected Keyon of the murder. He started yelling at the funeral, and Latonya fired back.

In December 2006, a man named Patrick Nash told police that he had loaned a gun and a knife to Carla Hughes. When he gave her the gun, it had five rounds in it. When she returned it, the gun was empty. Carla said she had been target practicing. Patrick gave the gun to the police, which was matched to the bullets that killed Avis.

Police searched Carla’s place and found pictures of Keyon everywhere. They also found blood splatter on a part of Carla’s shoes. They used cell phone tower records to place Carla at Avis’ house the night of the murder, and not at Carla’s house.

Carla was charged with two counts of capital murder. In October of 2009, Carla went to trial. Keyon testified in court that he had never wanted to be with Carla long-term and that it was just a sexual relationship.

Carla had broken into Avis’ house and waited for her to get home from work. She ambushed her in her garage after the garage door went down.

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