Georgia death row inmate Kenneth Fults will be executed by lethal injection at 7 p.m. tonight at the state prison in Jackson. The prisoner pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death for killing his neighbor during a burglary in 1996.
On Monday, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles held a clemency hearing for 47-year-old Fults but decided not to grant leniency. CBS News reports that the board did not provide a reason for their denial, only stating that members considered all the facts and circumstances of the case.
During his trial, prosecutors claimed Fults stole two guns and went to kill his ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend. However, he was unable to complete the murder.
Later, Fults broke into the trailer home next to his and found 19-year-old Cathy Bounds alone. Realizing Fults was going to harm her, the young woman begged for her life and even offered to give him the rings on her fingers.
The death row inmate ignored her pleas and dragged her to a bedroom, wrapped tape around her head, and threw her face-down on the bed. Fults then placed a pillow over her head and shot her five times using one of the guns he had stolen earlier.
Lawyers for Fults pleaded for mercy contending that the convicted killer was often abused and neglected by his alcoholic mother while growing up. They also said Fults suffers from a mental impairment that affects his reasoning skills, keeps him from fully understanding his actions, and disables his ability to learn from experiences.
“Mr. Fults, the man, committed a terrible, tragic act when he killed Cathy Bounds,” they wrote. “But before the man existed, there was an innocent, vulnerable child in his place. And that child, Kenny, fell through the cracks.”
The attorneys reminded the board that Fults took responsibility for the crime by pleading guilty and showed remorse at his trial by telling Bounds’ mother that he wished he could switch places with the young woman.
They also claimed one of the jurors was racially biased during the sentencing phase of the trial and the defense attorney provided an inadequate defense by failing to tell jurors that Fults was mentally disabled. The attorneys have also filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing Fults’ death penalty is unconstitutional because of the juror’s racial prejudice.
The juror, a white man named Thomas Buffington, told the judge and lawyers on both sides in the 1997 trial that he did not feel any racial prejudice. However, eight years later, during a conversation with an investigator hired by Fults’ attorney, Buffington used two racial slurs when referring to the black death row inmate. Buffington, who was 79-year-old when he spoke with the investigator, has since passed away.
“Once he pled guilty, I knew I would vote for the death penalty because that’s what that (N-word) deserved,” Buffington said, according to a signed affidavit.
Due to procedural reasons, state and federal courts have refused to consider Fults’ argument that his death sentence was improperly imposed. In October, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case on appeal.
Still, Fults’ attorneys are requesting the high court look at the case directly and not as an appeal. They point out that a somewhat similar case was heard just last week by the court.
The state of Georgia disagreed through its own court filing. They said the case has not established enough extraordinary circumstances to warrant the Supreme Court to take it directly.
The Georgia execution of Kenneth Fults will be the fourth in the state this year. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Joshua Daniel Bishop was put to death for the fatal beating of his friend, Leverett Morrison. Daniel Lucas, another death row inmate, is scheduled for execution on April 27.
[Photo by Georgia Department of Corrections/Getty Images]