Has now been executed (12th)
Neglect, racial prejudice and a sleeping lawyer leaves a man on death row. Execution imminent
In May 1997, Kenneth Fults pleaded guilty to the murder of Cathy Bounds – shot at her home on 30 January 1996. After a three-day sentencing hearing, the jury voted to sentence Kenneth to death.
Eight years later, one of the jurors from the sentencing signed a sworn statement admitting that he voted for the death penalty out of racial prejudice:
I don’t know if he ever killed anybody, but that n***** got just what should have happened. Once he pled guilty, I knew I would vote for the death penalty because that’s what the n***** deserved.
When evidence of racist motivation among the jury was raised at an appeal hearing, the state argued that it was too late to review the issue and Kenneth’s death sentence should stand. After 19 excruciating years on death row, Kenneth’s execution is now imminent. He is due to be executed on 12 April 2016.
Lawyer asleep during court
Former jurors on the case have since signed affidavits saying that Kenneth’s trial lawyer made little effort to save his client from the death penalty, and shockingly was seen to be asleep during the proceedings.
Mr Fults’s lawyer… was uninterested in what was happening, and it seemed like something was wrong with him. I saw him fall asleep repeatedly during the trial, and he would wake up, startled, when it was his turn to examine witnesses. I saw him sleeping off and on throughout the whole trial. Former juror on Kenneth Fult’s case
A childhood of neglect
The jury heard some mitigating evidence – that Kenneth was a man with a very low IQ who suffered from depression and an inability to always understand the consequences of his actions – but not they did not get the full story. His lawyer, Mr Mostiler, failed to give any background on Kenneth’s childhood of neglect and abandonment – born to a 16-year-old mother who later became addicted to crack cocaine.
I don’t believe he had a fair trial. Mr Fults’s current lawyers have told me about how Mr Fults was neglected and abandoned as a child and that he is mentally retarded. Mostiler didn’t bring this up at trial and he should have, so that we would have known more about Mr Fults before we talked about whether to give him the death penalty.
Another former juror on Kenneth Fult’s case In 2006 – a clinical psychologist assessed Kenneth as having an intellectual disability – with a low IQ. International law bans use of the death penalty on people with mental or intellectual disabilities.
What we’re calling for
We are completely opposed to the death penalty – in all cases, with no exception. The death penalty violates the right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. We’re asking the State of Georgia authorities to stop the execution of Kenneth Fults and for his death sentence to be commuted.
If you would like to write your own appeal, please send via fax or email to ensure it reaches the Chairman of the Board of Pardons and Paroles by 12 April 2016.
Chairman, Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles
Fax: +1 404-651-6670
Salutation: Dear Chairman Barnard
And please send copies to:
Governor Nathan Deal
Office of the Governor
Fax: +1 404-657-7332
Email: Complete the form at http://gov.georgia.gov/webform/contact-governor-international-form or http://gov.georgia.gov/webform/contact-governor-domestic-form
Last year saw a dramatic rise in executions globally, with the highest number recorded in more than 25 few years. However, the Americas is becoming a virtually death penalty-free region.
The USA is the only country in the region to still execute – and consistently one of the world’s top five executioners, behind only Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and China.
Last year 28 people were executed in the USA and almost 3,000 people remained on death row.
In June 2015, US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer noted that multiple studies have concluded that ‘individuals accused of murdering white victims, as opposed to black or other minority victims, are more likely to receive the death penalty’ in the USA.
African-American defendants receive the death penalty at three times the rate of white defendants in cases where the victims are white, according to a 2007 study in Connecticut conducted by Yale University School of Law.
From initial charging decisions to plea bargaining to jury sentencing, African-Americans are treated more harshly when they are defendants, and their lives are accorded less value when they are victims.
An irrevocable punishment
It may be an obvious point, but once somebody has been executed – there is no going back. And the risk of ending the life of an innocent person can never be overcome. Over the last 46 years, 150 prisoners sent to death row in the USA have later been exonerated due to evidence of wrongful convictions. The key factors leading to wrongful conviction include inadequate legal representation, police misconduct, racial prejudice and suppression of mitigating evidence.
China executes more people than all countries put together but the figures are a state secret.