A former juror's comment that the death sentence he handed down eight years ago was "what that nigger deserved" does not justify habeas relief, the 11th Circuit ruled. [Fults v. GDCP Warden]
Kenneth Fults has been on death row in Georgia since 1997 after he pleaded guilty to the 1996 murder and kidnapping of his next-door neighbor, Cathy Bounds.
Fulton invaded Bounds' home, wrapped electrical tape around her head, put a pillow over her and shot her in the back of the head five times.
Jurors found it an aggravating circumstance that the murder took place during a kidnapping and that it was outrageous.
It was not until April 2005, eight years after sentencing, that Fults claimed in an amended state habeas corpus petition that the "improper biases of jurors ... infected their deliberations," causing them to "improperly prejudg[e]" his case.
In support of that claim, Fults provided a handwritten, signed and notarized affidavit from one of the sentencing jurors, Thomas Buffington, dated two days before the petition was filed.
"I don't know if he ever killed anybody, but that nigger got just what should have happened," Buffington wrote. "Once he pled guilty, I knew I would vote for the death penalty because that's what that nigger deserved."
Both the state court and a federal judge found the claim procedurally defaulted, and the 11th Circuit affirmed Tuesday that the claim is barred.
In a footnote to the 22-page decision, the three-judge appellate panel noted that "Buffington denied having any racial prejudices" during voir dire questioning before the trial. To continue reading go here.