- Scorned wife Frances Hall was devastated when she discovered her husband had cheated on her again…
It had been love at first sight when Frances met Bill Hall at high school, aged 16. They went from childhood sweethearts to a power couple who built up a multi-million-dollar trucking company during their 32-year marriage. Bill and Frances, from San Antonio, Texas, seemed to have it all, but their relationship was flawed. Bill had a weakness for women and driving fast – a combination that would prove deadly.
Frances had never loved another man. She’d been with Bill since she was a teenager and they’d married at 18. They had two grown-up children together, Nikki and Justin, and grandchildren they loved to spoil. Money was never a problem. The couple had bought their first truck in the 1980s and started a transporting business. They worked hard and, before long, Bill Hall Jr Trucking was an empire worth £12million.
The couple were able to treat their family, buy luxury homes and indulge their every whim. Bill loved life in the fast lane and bought a Harley-Davidson that he had customised with light-blue paint – the colour of his company. It was his pride and joy.
Frances adored her husband, but knew their marriage wasn’t perfect. There was one thing their wealth couldn’t buy – Bill’s fidelity. Bill, 50, had had a string of affairs, and he’d even fathered a child with his cousin’s wife. Frances knew, but she loved Bill, so had chosen to forgive him. What she didn’t know was that one of his lovers would destroy them forever.
In 2010, Bill met Bonnie Contreras, 28, a former exotic dancer, and was captivated. Bonnie was young and beautiful, and Bill loved to shower her with gifts. He bought her two luxury cars, paid her rent, and even gave her the money for breast enhancements. They dated secretly for three years. Bonnie later claimed that when they met, Bill had told her his marriage was over and that he was getting a divorce.
But by September 2013, Bill was starting to lose interest in his lover. His friends insist he would never have left Frances – she was the love of his life. Bill started to avoid Bonnie’s calls, and his mistress grew angry.
Bonnie told Frances about the affair and the women started to war. It quickly turned nasty. Bonnie sent a heartbroken Frances endless messages, taunting her with details about her relationship with Bill. Frances fought back with nasty words – despite Bill’s betrayal, she wasn’t about to give up on their marriage. They’d survived his infidelity before.
Several weeks after finding out about the affair, Frances and Bill were trying to work through their problems, but Bonnie continued to bombard her love rival with text messages. One included a photograph of Bonnie and Bill having sex. It was too much for Frances and, distraught, she threw him out. He went to Bonnie’s place and stayed the night.
The next day, 10 October 2013, Frances was driving down a Texas highway in an SUV worth £80,000, after watching a relative play in a volleyball game. She spotted Bill riding his unique blue Harley motorbike on the other side of the road – and driving behind him was Bonnie. Worse still, she was driving the family’s Range Rover. Frances was furious.
In a rage, she turned the car around and sped up behind them. ‘I wanted to confront Bonnie,’ she later claimed. She wanted her husband’s mistress to pull over so she could tell her to stop the vile messages, but Bonnie just drove faster.
According to Bonnie, Frances slammed repeatedly into the back bumper of her car. Frances denies this. She said it was Bonnie who was recklessly braking in front of her but their cars never touched. They sped at over 80mph down the highway. Other drivers dialled 911 to report them racing.
Somehow, Bill got between the two vehicles with Bonnie up ahead and Frances behind. Not everyone agrees on what happened next. Did Frances’s car clip Bill’s bike, which sent him hurtling off the road? Or did he lose control and slide, hitting his wife’s car as he crashed?
Frances felt cold air in the car as her rear right window smashed. Bill spun off the road and was thrown onto the grass. With no helmet on, it was a catastrophic accident. Bonnie and Frances both did a U-turn and raced back to the scene. Bonnie insists that Frances continued to slam into her back bumper, but Frances firmly denies it.
As emergency services were called, Bill fought for his life at the side of the road. He couldn’t breathe and was rushed to hospital in an air ambulance, but he died
from his injuries a few hours later.
Frances had been arrested and, while being questioned, she was told her husband was dead.
“I’ve been with him since I was 16,” she sobbed. “I’m just in shock.”
Frances insisted it was an accident, but she was charged with felony murder and aggravated assault for her actions against Bonnie.
Almost three years later, in August this year, the trial began. Bonnie testified saying that Frances was responsible for killing Bill.
“I see her hit Bill with the truck and I see him fly off the motorcycle and then I see the bike fly,” she said.
She testified that Frances had continued to hit her vehicle more than 15 times afterwards. Prosecutors played a threatening phone message from Frances to Bonnie that she left during the chase – “Told you to watch your back…”
They painted Frances as an angry woman, out for blood.
“As a result of her rage, a man is dead,” they told the jury. “Justice is holding this woman responsible for that man’s death.”
The defence experts demonstrated with the use of toy cars, that Bill had simply lost control and hit Frances’s rear window as he spun away. There was no bump on the back of Bill’s bike, or on the front of Frances’s SUV. Problem was, Frances had been the one to give chase causing everyone to drive recklessly.
Frances, 53, didn’t take the stand. After the three-week trial, the jury found her guilty of felony murder and aggravated assault. She faced life in prison.
There was one last chance for leniency at a separate sentencing trial. Frances’s lawyers argued ‘sudden passion’ – a legal term for when you react in the heat of the moment
and don’t think clearly because emotions are running high. It wouldn’t change the conviction of murder, but the punishment would be far less. This time, Frances took the stand.
“I am not this evil person that they said I am,” she said. “Show mercy on me, please.”
She said she’d take her husband’s place “in a heartbeat” and was “a shell of a person without him”.
The judge believed that Frances was remorseful and gave her a sentence of just two years in prison.
Today, the Halls’ trucking business has filed for bankruptcy and a family has been torn apart. Bill’s mistress continues to file lawsuits against Frances – and Frances mourns her husband from behind bars.
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