JACKSON, Ga., April 13 (UPI) — Kenneth Fults was executed late Tuesday in Georgia for the 1996 murder of his neighbor in a case that gained notoriety for racial issues.
Fults, 47, a black man, was sentenced to death after pleading guilty to killing his 19-year-old white neighbor, Cathy Bounds. He shot her five times in the back of the head after restraining her in her trailer home.
Her murder came as part of a weeklong crime spree in Griffin, Ga., in which Fults broke into several houses to steal guns with the goal of killing his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Bounds was not Fults’ ex-girlfriend.
Facing formidable evidence, Fults pleaded guilty hoping the jury would show mercy if he admitted to the crime and showed remorse.
Fults was sentenced to death. During the trial, each juror was asked if the race difference between Fults and Bounds was an issue and all jurors said “no.”
Eight years later, an investigator working on Fults’ appeal found that one juror — Thomas Buffington — gave a different answer when asked about the case, using incendiary racial slurs to make his point.
“I don’t know if he ever killed anybody, but that n—– got just what should have happened,” Buffington, who has since died, wrote in a statement. “Once he pled guilty, I knew I would vote for the death penalty because that’s what that n—– deserved.”
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Fults’ appeal for mercy nearly four hours before his scheduled execution at 7 p.m. His clemency appeal based on intellectual disability was also rejected.
His last meal Tuesday was steak, brown rice, baked potato and apple juice.
Fults’ appeal to the Supreme Court argued that his execution should be halted until arguments were heard in a non-capital case in Colorado. In that case, jurors who convicted a man of attempted sexual assault on a minor used derogatory remarks about Mexicans.
Fults was hoping to prove race had an impact on his case. The courts declined to hear Fults’ argument, citing it was too late and barred by procedure.