The state of Georgia will execute Kenneth Fults Tuesday after a racist juror said he’d vote for the death penalty during his trial.
Fults, a Black man, spent 19 years on death row for the 1996 shooting and killing of Cathy Bounds during a burglary. Eight years after the trial, a juror signed a sworn statement in 2004 that said, “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.”
Georgia stated that despite evidence of racism, it was too late to reevaluate the case. Fults will be executed via lethal injection April 12.
A clemency hearing is scheduled for Monday and Fults’ lawyers are asking the State Board of Pardons and Paroles to spare their client’s life, according to MetroUK.
Fults’ legal team established a website dedicated to saving him from execution, because he only reads on a fourth-grade level. The website names Thomas Buffington, who is now dead, as the trial’s racially motivated juror. Attorneys have been asking courts to review evidence of racism since the affidavit was signed, but no court has ever ruled on the claim since Buffington signed his affidavit years after the trial.
The Telegraph reports Fults’ court-appointed trial lawyer, Johnny Mostiler, repeatedly fell asleep due to being overworked. Mostiler’s actions only further lead to an unfair judgement. The situation shows the discrepancies in the justice system when it comes to Black people in the courtroom.
In Georgia, prosecutors have excluded every Black prospective juror in a death penalty case against a Black defendant. In the last decade, attorneys have used peremptory challenges three times as often to remove potential Black jurors as others in Louisiana’s Caddo Parish, according to The New York Times.
Death Penalty Information Center says as of this year, more Black defendants are on death row than white ones. Black defendants also are the second-highest race of defendants executed in the U.S. since 1976.