Judge sides with county in Edmonds lawsuit

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Tyler Edmonds’ wrongful imprisonment lawsuit was tossed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, with a federal judge saying that officers did “nothing unconstitutional” in the handling of his confession.
Edmonds and his mother, Sharon Clay of West Point, sued Oktibbeha County in 2009, saying that in 2003, the 14-year-old was wrongfully convicted of murder “based on an alleged coerced confession taken by law enforcement officers” in that county.
Edmonds was arrested May 12, 2003, and accused in the death of Joey Fulgham, who was married to his half-sister, Kristi Fulgham.
His confession reportedly came after Edmonds and his mother were separated, and then Kristi told him to “tell them” what he had done. Edmonds was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but a second trial jury acquitted him.
Kristi Fulgham is serving a life sentence for her role in the killing.
Edmonds and Clay first sued the state to recover money from a wrongful conviction fund, which went into effect July 1, 2009. But the case went to circuit court for review, where the state was dismissed by mutual agreement Oct. 15, 2009.
In the new federal ruling, Senior Judge Neal Biggers Jr. said that neither the first trial court, the Court of Appeals, state Supreme Court nor the second trial court found the actions of law enforcement officers to be unconstitutional, “and this court agrees.”
Biggers also assessed as not relevant the only “new issue” before the court – that Judge Jim T. Kitchens of Caledonia telephoned Chief District Judge Michael Mills “in a very irritated, angry’ state of mind” about a Mills decision in Edmonds’ appeals case.
He said the Kitchens remarks did not reveal his personal opinion as to Edmonds’ innocence or guilt.
Biggers agreed with the defense’s motion to take its side, saying Edmonds’ rights were not violated by law enforcement.
He also rejected Clay’s claim she had the right to be present during Edmonds’ interrogation.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.