Justin Chaz Fuller, 27, was executed by lethal injection on 24 August 2006 in Huntsville, Texas for the abduction, robbery and murder of a 21-year-old man.
On 21 April 1997, Fuller, then 18, Elaine Hays, 25, Samhermundre Wideman, 20, and Brent Chandler, 19 went to the Tyler apartment of Donald Whittington. They tied Whittington up and searched his apartment for property to steal. While Chandler removed property from the apartment, the other three forced Whittington into his vehicle and drove to an automatic teller machine. Fuller withdrew $240 from Whittington's account and divided the money evenly with Hays and Wideman. They then drove to a local park. Whittington was forced to his knees, then was shot twice in the head and once in the arm with a .22-caliber weapon.
That evening, Fuller told two friends from Chapel Hill High School about the robbery and murder and took them to see the body. The next day, one of those students took five friends to see the body. Two days later, one of those youths, Kevin Ballard, contacted the police and led them to the body.
In a search of Fuller's home, police found Whittington's ATM card in Fuller's wallet, and the victim's watch in the living room. After his arrest, Fuller confessed to being involved in the crime, but he denied being the trigger man. He also denied taking anyone to see the body.
While awaiting trial, Fuller was found guilty of misdemeanor theft for stealing money from his employer's cash register in 1996.
At Fuller's capital murder trial, prosecutors alleged that Fuller robbed Whittington, who had also attended Chapel Hill High School, because he failed to return some borrowed rings to a friend. The defense attempted to depict Wideman as the leader of the group and the organizer of the crime.
A jury convicted Fuller of capital murder in March 1998 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in December 2000. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
Elaine Kay Hays and Samhermundre Raemune Wideman were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. Brent Bates Chandler was convicted of aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and arson and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
In a brief last statement, Fuller thanked his family and friends for their support. He did not acknowledge the relatives of his victim. As the lethal drugs began to take effect, Fuller looked at his parents and said, "I love you." He was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 25 August 2006.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Attorney General's office, Associated Press, Huntsville Item, court documents, public records.