Parole Board denies clemency for Kenneth Fults

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles Monday evening turned down the clemency request of condemned murderer Kenneth Fults, leaving the U.S. Supreme Court his only hope to avoid his execution set for Tuesday.

The board announced its decision a little more than four hours after the current district attorney for Spalding County, Scott Ballard, and his predecessor as chief prosecutor in the Griffin Judicial Circuit, Bill McBroom, met with the board to argue that Fults’ execution should move ahead as scheduled. Ballard and McBroom were with the board about 1 1/2 hours.

Fults is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Tuesday for murdering his 19-year-old neighbor, Cathy Bounds, more than 20 years ago.

In the meanwhile, Fults still has an appeal pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. That appeal was filed late Friday and the state responded today.

Fults’ lawyers spent about 3 1/2 hours with the board this morning arguing for mercy. They declined to speak with reporters after the meeting.

While the meetings with the board are closed to the public, Fults’ lawyers raised several issues in his clemency petition filed last week.

They told the board about Fults’ violent and troubled childhood with an abusive alcoholic mother and her boyfriends.

They also note that one of the jurors who voted that Fults should die used a racial slur when he referenced Fults in an affidavit secured by an investigator on his legal team.

According to the 2005 affidavit that was attached to numerous court filings, Thomas Buffington said he knew before he heard any testimony that he was going to vote for death.

Buffington, now dead, wrote in a 2005 affidavit, “I don’t know if he ever killed anybody, but that (slur) got just what should have happened. Once he pled guilty, I knew I would vote for the death penalty because that’s what that (slur) deserved.”

Various state and federal courts declined to consider evidence of the juror’s attitude toward race because, they wrote, that issue was raised too late in the appeals process.

Fults pleaded guilty to murdering Bounds and went on trial only so his sentence could be set.

According to police and the accounts Fults gave to investigators and during sentencing, Fults was on a weeklong crime spree with the goal of stealing guns so he could kill his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. He tried to shoot his rival on Jan. 29, 1996, from an empty apartment, but the stolen gun jammed. Fults wanted a better gun, according to prosecutors.

So the next morning, after his neighbor’s live-in boyfriend had left for work, Fults broke into Bounds’ trailer. He wrapped 6 feet of electrical tape around her eyes, led her into a bedroom and put her face-down on a bed. As she begged for her life, he put a pillow over the back of her head and shot her five times.

If Fults is put to death, he will be the fourth person Georgia has executed this year. Another man, Daniel Anthony Lucas, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on April 27.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X