The 12th Execution of 2016
Georgia executed 47-year-old Kenneth Fults for the 1996 murder of his neighbor.
Fults was killed by lethal injection on April 12, 2016 at 7:37 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center in Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
There was no one in the execution chamber for Fults, so he had no final words for witnesses from the media and the state who had gathered. But he ended the prayer offered by the chaplain with, “Amen.”
A few minutes after the execution drugs had begun to flow, he twice looked at the IV inserted into his right arm. Moments later, his entire body shook for a few seconds. Then he was still. Fifteen minutes later he was pronounced dead.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Fults’ appeal for mercy nearly four hours before the scheduled execution hour of 7 p.m.
The rejection came even before Fults was given his last meal of steak, brown rice, baked potato and apple juice. Usually it is well past the scheduled execution hour when the Supreme Court decides last-minute appeals.
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles turned downhis petition for clemency Monday night.
In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Fults’ asks the justices to stop his execution at least until after they have heard arguments in a non-capital Colorado case in which there were similar issues — jurors who allegedly held racist attitudes that went against the defendant.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear in the fall an appeal by Miguel Angel Pena-Rodriguez, who was convicted of attempted sexual assault on a child younger than 15. It was later learned that some of the jurors who convicted Pena-Rodriguez made derogatory comments about Mexicans.
In Fults’ case, a juror who voted for death used a racial slur in an affidavit he gave eight years after Fults’ trial.
Fults, a black man, pleaded guilty to murdering his white neighbor, 19-year-old Cathy Bounds, on Jan. 30, 1996, at the end of a weeklong crime spree in Griffin. Fults admitted he broke into several houses to steal guns so he could kill his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.
Faced with the evidence, Fults pleaded guilty with the hope the jury would show mercy if he admitted to the crime and showed remorse.
Each prospective juror was asked if the differences in Fults’ and Bounds’ race would matter, and all those seated, including Thomas Buffington, said it would not.
But when an investigator working on Fults’ appeal interviewed Buffington eight years later, he gave a different answer, and confirmed it by repeating the racial slur in a written sworn statement.
“I don’t know if he (Fults) ever killed anybody, but that (slur) got just what should have happened,” Buffington, now dead, wrote. “Once he pled guilty, I knew I would vote for the death penalty because that’s what that (slur) deserved.”
The courts declined to hear that issue in Fults’ appeals, writing that it was too late and “procedurally barred.”
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