Corey Williams

DETROIT: Francine Wilson, whose trial for killing her abusive husband became a landmark spousal abuse case and the subject of the 1984 TV movie The Burning Bed starring Farrah Fawcett, has died. She was 69.

Wilson died March 22 of complications from pneumonia, said Jim Hughes, her son.

Wilson, whose last name was then Hughes, killed her husband, James “Mickey” Hughes, in 1977 by setting fire to their Dansville, Mich., home while he slept.

At her trial, Wilson described years of abuse. Her attorney, Arjen Greydanus, said Friday that Wilson’s testimony about the horrors she endured was effective and the jury found her not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. “Temporary insanity — at the time — was not a recognized defense,” said Greydanus.

The case changed the way domestic violence would be viewed, Greydanus said.

Jim Hughes, 50, remembers his father as “being kind of a monster looming over and everybody being frightened. ... The way the laws were, the cops couldn’t do anything. I remember the cops being there and she was just battered and bloody.”

Wilson remarried and worked as a licensed practical nurse.