Charges dropped against former worker accused of trying to kill boss

Demarquis Prince freed after 5 months in jail

APOPKA, Fla. – Prosecutors dropped criminal charges against a man who was accused of trying to kill his former boss for firing him at a Wendy's restaurant.

Dexter Hughley, 46, was found shot inside his Apopka apartment last November, and his car was found burned in a nearby park.

Apopka police arrested Demarquis Prince, 21, and they claimed he had tried to kill his former boss because he had fired him.

News 6 found out the victim told investigators last Thursday that his former employee was not the gunman.

"I started yelling and thanking God," said Demarquis Prince's mother, Akiba Prince. "I was just crying."

Prince was released from jail last Thursday -- five months after he was arrested.

"I was just relieved that the truth finally was told," he said.

But what was the truth?

News 6 tracked down Dexter Hughley's family to ask them why Hughley wanted the charges dropped.

"My brother told them the other day that it was not Prince," Hughley's sister, Uletha Jennings, said. "He did not say anything. He did not tell anyone that it wasn't Prince because he wasn't able to talk, because of his injuries."

That means Prince spent five months in jail for a crime he did not commit.

"I want him and his family, most of all, to forgive me and my brother because of what happened," Jennings said. "I wish the best for him."

The admission also means there is a gunman on the loose.

"I just want the right person to be found," said Prince.

Apopka police released a statement Thursday morning. 

"Apopka detectives over the period of several weeks after the incident, relied on the testimony of Mr. Hughley regarding the identity of the suspect," the statement read. "Mr. Hughley’s current testimony is being reviewed and has not currently been substantiated. The department currently holds this case open and will follow leads if and when they become available."

News 6 asked the Orange County State Attorney's office why the charges were dropped. 

The State Attorney’s Office said that during Hughley's deposition on April 20, he said he was wrong and Prince was not the shooter. 

This prompted Prince's release from jail. 

In Hughley's deposition that was given on April 20, he said, "I've been searching and going through my mind because I could never remember exactly what happened because I got shot in the head and I don't know if my memory is locked up or whatever, but Marquis didn't shoot me."

He named the person who shot him. The name in the deposition has been blacked out, but he said he knew the shooter.

"I remember him at my house, he asked for some water or soda or something and I said, 'OK,' and turned around to go to the refrigerator and that's when he shot me. I heard two other voices there after the shooting, but I can't say who it was," according to the document.

Towards the end of the deposition, Hughley said, "Let Demarquis know that I'm so sorry."

News 6 asked Prince's mother how she felt about the recent statement from Apopka police. 

"Clearly, they are going to try to cover their self as much as they can. But at this point, I don't want to hear anything that they have to say because they didn't do their job," said Prince. 

News 6 asked police how they go about getting information in a case when the victim is hospitalized and if there are any suspects in this case given no one is facing charges. 

Prince said she plans to take legal action against the police department. ​

The case is still under open investigation and no more information was available.

About the Authors:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013. He is one of the station’s lead reporters. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.