Georgia Set to Execute Intellectually Disabled Inmate Whose Trial Was Tainted By Racism and Poor Representation

Georgia is preparing to execute Kenneth Fults (pictured) on April 12, following the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denial of his clemency application. Fults' current lawyers presented evidence to the Board that Fults is intellectually disabled and "functions in the lowest 1 percent of the population." They also argued that Fults' trial lawyer failed to present this evidence to the jury, as well as extensive evidence that Fults endured a childhood of chronic abuse and torment in which he reportedly was "beaten up and down by family members and strangers alike." According to juror affidavits submitted in the clemency proceedings, Fults' original lawyer also slept through parts of the trial. Fults' trial was also tainted by racism. The clemency application and several court pleadings attach an affidavit from one of the jurors admitting that even before the jury heard any testimony, he knew he was going to vote to sentence Fults to death. The affidavit, signed in 2005, states: “I don’t know if he ever killed anybody, but that (N-word) got just what should have happened. Once he pled guilty, I knew I would vote for the death penalty because that’s what that (N-word) deserved.” Fults' lawyers have also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution and review the case, arguing that the juror's racial bias unconstitutionally undermined the fairness of his sentencing proceeding. 

(K. Brumback, "Parole board denies clemency for Georgia death row inmate," Associated Press, April 11, 2016; R. Cook, "Parole Board denies clemency for Kenneth Fults," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 11, 2006.) See Intellectual Disability and Race.