W.Va. man on death row says no to clemency
By Brett Barrouquere
The Associated Press
A federal inmate on death row for killing a South Carolina woman after escaping from a Kentucky jail wants to bypass any attempt to save his own life and accept an execution date once it is set.
Chadrick Evan Fulks, 36, said he wants to free his lawyers to work for inmates "that do have a chance'' of winning a reprieve or an appeal and not spend time and energy on him.
"I feel like I'm just a case # to them and they now have more important cases to work on now that I don't have a chance,'' Fulks wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "So, why continue on?''
Fulks, of West Hamlin, W.Va., and Brandon Basham, 32, were sentenced to death for kidnapping and killing Alice Donovan, 44, of Galivants Ferry, S.C., in December 2002. Donovan disappeared from a Wal-Mart parking lot in Conway, S.C. Her remains were found in 2009.
The pair went on a 17-day crime spree through Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina after escaping the Hopkins County Jail in western Kentucky in 2002.
Both men pleaded guilty and were sentenced to life in prison for abducting and killing 19-year-old Samantha Burns, a Marshall University student last seen in 2002. Burns' family, with help from Fulks, continues to search for her remains.
Burns, also of West Hamlin, disappeared after telephoning her mother in November 2002 to tell her she was leaving the Huntington Mall in Barboursville and heading home, about 15 miles away. She never got there. The disappearance set off a massive manhunt that led to her burned-out vehicle about 15 minutes south of Huntington. Burns' family has declined to comment.
Whether Fulks wants a reprieve isn't really up to him, said P.S. Ruckman, a political science professor at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill., who blogs about clemency. While there's no law requiring an inmate to seek clemency, the president doesn't need the inmate's permission to grant it, either, Ruckman said.
"It's the government's decision to decide what's best for the people in these cases,'' Ruckman said. "The criminal has no say in it.''
Attempts to reach Amy Donnella, the federal public defender handling Fulks' case, were unsuccessful over several weeks. Fulks appeals have each been turned away in the courts, with the U.S. Supreme Court rejecting a last bid from him Dec. 4.
Federal executions are on hold while the Justice Department writes new regulations for carrying out lethal injections in response to lawsuits brought by several inmates. The last federal execution took place in 2003, when Louis Jones was put to death by lethal injection for a kidnapping resulting in a death.
Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley declined to discuss Fulks or his case, but said the process of rewriting the execution protocol is being finalized.
The decision to help the Burns and Donovan families find the remains of their loved ones is strictly a personal choice, Fulks said, and a way of easing the burden on his conscience. Fulks said he doesn't want his attorneys to raise the assistance given to the families in a bid to save his life.
Fulks and Basham were cellmates at the Hopkins County Jail in Madisonville, Ky., in 2002 where they were held on armed robbery charges. They were left in the jail's recreation yard unsupervised for about 90 minutes and security cameras weren't in their normal positions on the day they escaped.
The families of Burns and Donovan settled a lawsuit with the jail in 2008 for an undisclosed amount. Fulks and Basham were dismissed from the lawsuit.