A Texas man is set for execution after requesting that his lawyers stop the appeals process after he pleaded guilty to the 2003 killings of his neighbours.
Barney Fuller Jr, 58, is set for lethal injection on Wednesday following his July 2004 capital murder conviction for the murders of Nathan Copeland, 43, and his wife Annette Copeland, 39, during a shooting frenzy at their Lovelady home – a rural town outside of Houston.
Fuller will be the seventh person executed in Texas this year, 16th nationally, as the practice continues to decline amid protests from human rights organisations and a dwindling supply of drugs for lethal injection cocktails.
Last year, Fuller requested that his lawyers stop filing appeals to his death sentence, asserting that he did not want to spend any more time than he had to on death row.
“I do not want to go on living in this hell-hole,” he said in a letter to his attorney, Jason Cassel. “Do not do anything for me which will prolong my appeals and time here on Texas death row.”
A federal judge allowed Fuller to go on with his decision to halt the appeals process. He testified at a June hearing that he was satisfied with his counsel, was not coerced, and was “ready to move on”.
Fuller surrendered to police following his middle-of-the-night shooting rampage that killed the Copeland couple on 14 May 2003. Their 14-year-old son, Cody, survived two gunshot wounds, while their 10-year-old daughter, Courtney, was unharmed because Fuller could not turn on the lights in her bedroom.
Cody managed to call 911 with his mother’s mobile phone.
In pictures: Controversial executions
In pictures: Controversial executions
1/5 George Stinney Jr, 14
George Stinney Jr became the youngest person to be executed in the US in the 20th century when he was sent to the electric chair in 1944 during the trial that lasted less than three hours and reportedly bore no evidence and barely any witness testimonies.
2/5 Clayton Lockett, 38
Convicted of the murder and rape of 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman in 2000 and sentenced to death. Lockett died of a heart attack after a failed execution by lethal injection in April 2014
3/5 Roy Blankenship, 55
Killed by lethal injection in 2011 after he murdered an elderly woman. Witnesses saw him grimace and jerk as he became the first person put to death in that state with pentobarbital. Medical experts said he “suffered greatly”
4/5 Michael Wilson, 38
Executed by lethal injection in January 2014. Wilson was convicted of murdering co-worker Richard Yost during a robbery at a convenience store in 1995. He is one of three people executed for the crime
5/5 Dennis McGuire, 53
Sentenced to death following the rape and murder of pregnant 22-year-old Joy Stewart in 1989. After spending 25 years on death row fighting the order to end his life, McGuire was executed by lethal injection in January 2014
Fuller had previously made threatening phone calls to the Copelands. One call in 2001 came after he shot out an electrical transformer that powered their home.
“Happy new year,” he said in the call. “I’m going to kill you.”
Both prosecutors and defence described Fuller as apathetic and unrepentant for the murders.
William House, one of Fuller’s trial lawyer, told the Associated Press that his client asked to remain absent during the trial’s punishment phase. He did not return to the courtroom until the jury handed down the conviction.
“He was very adamant [about] not wanting to be there,” he said. “From the very start, he just really didn’t care.”
Former Houston County district attorney Cindy Garner, who prosecuted Fuller, said that what had happened was beyond anybody’s expectations in the town.
“A lot of times in the country folks argue about chickens and dogs,” she said. “He was shooting his mouth off, but nobody had any idea that something like this was going to happen, where he was just going to march down the road like Rambo and tear up an entire family."Reuse content