An illiterate Georgia death row inmate was denied clemency on Monday after claims surfaced that a juror made racist statements during his sentencing.
According to CBS News, Kenneth Fults is being put to death by lethal injection this evening (April 12) at 7 p.m. over the 1996 murder of 19-year-old Cathy Bounds. Fults reportedly broke into Bounds’ home and shot her in the head five times. He pleaded guilty to the crime in 1997 and a jury sentenced him to die.
On Monday, (April 11) the State Board of Pardons and Paroles heard arguments from Fults’ lawyers on his childhood, violent upbringing and his mother’s cocaine usage shortly after having him at the age of 16. “Throughout his life, Kenneth Fults was abandoned and rejected by those who were supposed to care for him, ridiculed and dismissed by those who could have helped him, and beaten up and down by family members and strangers alike,” his lawyers wrote.
Fults suffered from an intellectual disability with a reported IQ of 72. The clemency petition also included a juror’s racist comments might have influenced the death penalty option in the case.
Thomas Buffington informed both sides he had no racial prejudice in the case. Fults is black, Bounds was white. In 2005, Buffington was quoted in a sworn affidavit saying, “I don’t know if [Fults] ever killed anybody, but that ni**er got just what should have happened. Once he pled guilty, I knew I would vote for the death penalty because that’s what that ni**er deserved.”
Buffington passed away in 2014. The board rejected the clemency petition on the grounds of his troubled upbringing. BuzzFeed News reports Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens’ office acknowledged the juror bias claims were brought up too late.
Fults would be the fourth man to be executed in the state this year.