JACKSON – A unanimous state Supreme Court on Thursday threw out the death penalty for murderer Kristi Fulgham and ordered a new hearing on her sentence.
In its 48-page ruling written by Justice Ann Lamar, the nine-member court said Oktibbeha County Circuit Court Judge Lee J. Howard erred in not allowing testimony from a social worker during the sentencing phase of Fulgham’s trial.
Attorneys for Fulgham were unavailable for comment after the decision but District Attorney Forrest Allgood, who prosecuted the case, said “it doesn’t mean the death penalty is off the table. It just means there has to be a new sentencing hearing.”
Now 34, Fulgham was convicted Dec. 7, 2006, in the shooting death of her husband, Joey Fulgham, while he slept in their Longview community home on May 11, 2003. Prosecutors claimed his wallet was missing, along with a computer tower, which resulted in a robbery charge.
In Mississippi, capital murder – a killing done in connection with another crime – is punishable by life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
In July 2003, an Oktibbeha County grand jury indicted her and her half-brother, Tyler Edmonds, then 14, for the death. Edmonds was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2004, but later was freed after a new trial.
Fulgham had asked the state Supreme Court to allow a hearing on the validity of her death sentence. She did not contest the jury’s guilty verdict.
In agreeing to her appeal, the justices said Howard made an error when he did not allow mitigating testimony from social worker Adrienne Dorsey-Kidd.
Dorsey-Kidd had been accepted as an expert witness and was prepared to testify about several observations that might have contributed to Fulgham’s behavior.
But the state later objected, saying Kidd was not authorized to offer her observations and opinions “because she is not a psychiatrist or psychologist.”
The justices said Howard should not have sustained the objection and called his decision a “reversible error” that merited a new sentencing hearing.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal