Murder of Kevin Hughes by Richard D’Antonio investigated on Sins of the South

A close up family pic of Kevin Hughes
Kevin Hughes was just 23 years old when he was callously murdered. Pic credit: Family pic

Sins of the South is examining the murder of music researcher Kevin Hughes, who was gunned down by Richard D’Antonio on Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee.

The 23-year-old Hughes was working for Cashbox Magazine, a music industry trade publication. The police believe he was trying to expose malpractice by his colleagues, who were later accused of demanding cash bribes to put music artists in the record charts.

On March 9, 1989, Hughes and his friend, country music singer Sammy Saddler, left Evergreen Records on Music Row and walked to Hughes’s car. At that point, a man dressed all in black and wearing a ski mask appeared with a firearm.

Saddler threw his arms up, but D’Antonio still opened fire, hitting him in the arm. The singer fell into Hughes’s car. Saddler, along with multiple witnesses, then saw the gunman chase his friend up the street.

The killer fired a shot at Hughes, which struck him, causing him to fall. The gunman was then overheard saying, “Now I’m Gonna Kill Ya,” before he fired two rounds into Hughes.

Multiple witnesses had seen the horrific crime unfold from their apartment windows. They all described the killer as a stocky man with a limp who was wearing a ski mask and dark clothing. After killing Hughes, he fled the scene on foot.

Sammy Saddler recounted how Richard D’Antonio killed Kevin Hughes

Thirty years later, Saddler recalled the incident to a reporter, “I thought, ‘Oh my God, this guy’s got a gun,’ and he shot, and I threw my arms up, and he shot, and the bullet hit my arm, and I fell over into Kevin’s car. He started running up the street a,nd the guy went after him and shot him and killed him.”

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The police later learned that D’Antonio and his boss, Chuck Dixon, both employees at Cashbox, had allegedly been taking bribes of $1,500 to $2,000 per song from promoters and little-known artists to get on the charts. D’Antonio had killed Hughes to prevent him from exposing their scheme.

Dixon passed away in 2001 before the police were able to track down Hughes’s killer.

Richard D’Antonio convicted of Kevin Hughes murder

It took 13 years to get D’Antonio into court. In September 2003, the killer, now a Las Vegas pit boss, was convicted of first-degree murder. He was also found guilty of assault with intent to commit second-degree murder for shooting Saddler. He was sentenced to life in prison.

After the sentencing, Hughes’s father, Larry Hughes, told reporters, “I’m still shaking. It’s going to take a while for our bodies and minds to absorb all this.” Hughes’s brother, Kyle Hughes, added, “Justice was served today. We’re so thrilled.”

Richard D’Antonio passed away in prison in 2014 at 67 years old.

Sins of the South airs Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen.

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