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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Georgia sets execution date for man convicted in '96 killing

Kenneth Fults
Kenneth Fults
The head of Georgia's Department of Corrections on Wednesday set an execution date for a man convicted of killing a woman by shooting her in the head 5 times.

Department Commissioner Homer Bryson scheduled the execution of 47-year-old Kenneth Fults for 7 p.m. April 12, according to a department news release.

Fults pleaded guilty in 1997 to killing Cathy Bounds in January 1996, and a jury sentenced him to die.

Bounds' death came during a weeklong crime spree that started when he stole 2 guns during burglaries, prosecutors said.

After trying unsuccessfully to kill his former girlfriend's new boyfriend with 1 of the stolen guns, Fults broke into the Spalding County home of the 19-year-old Bounds, prosecutors said.

Bounds pleaded for her life, but Fults forced her into the bedroom, put her face-down on the bed, put a pillow over her head and shot her 5 times in the back of the head, prosecutors said.

Fults confessed to killing Bounds after a law enforcement officer confronted him with a boastful letter he had written in gang code that described the slaying, prosecutors said. But Fults told authorities he shot her by accident while in a dream-like state, prosecutors said.

The gun used to kill Bounds and items stolen during the earlier burglaries were found at Fults' trailer home.

The U.S. Supreme Court in October declined to hear an appeal from Fults. His lawyers had argued racial bias deprived him of a fair trial because a white juror who voted for the death penalty later referred to him with a racial slur.

During jury selection, Thomas Buffington told the judge and lawyers on both sides he felt no racial prejudice. He was selected for the jury that sentenced Fults to death.

An investigator who was part of Fults' legal team reached out to Buffington 8 years later to ask about his experience on the jury.

"Once he pled guilty, I knew I would vote for the death penalty because that's what that (N-word) deserved," Buffington said, according to an affidavit signed April 12, 2005.

Buffington died in 2014.

Fults' lawyers had tried for 10 years to get a court to consider evidence of racial bias, but state and federal judges had already rejected Fults' appeal by the time the Supreme Court rejected the case without comment in October.

Georgia has already executed 2 inmates this year, and another inmate, Joshua Bishop, is scheduled to be put to death March 31.

Source: The Associated Press, March 23, 2016

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