US state of Georgia executes man for 1996 murder of neighbour during burglary

Georgia death row inmate Kenneth Earl Fults, who was executed on Tuesday (April 12).
Georgia death row inmate Kenneth Earl Fults, who was executed on Tuesday (April 12). PHOTO: REUTERS

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia man whose next-door neighbour pleaded for her life before he killed her during a 1996 burglary was executed by lethal injection on Tuesday (April 12), the state's Attorney-General said.

Kenneth Earl Fults, 47, died at 7.37pm at a state prison in Jackson, Georgia, Attorney-General Sam Olens said.

It was the fourth execution in Georgia this year and the 12th in the United States.

Fults shot 19-year-old Ms Cathy Bounds five times in the back of the head after breaking into her home in Spalding County, according to a court synopsis of the case.

Ms Bounds begged for her life and offered Fults the rings off her fingers before he wrapped more than 1.8m of electrical tape around her head, forced her into a bedroom and placed her face down on her bed, where he shot her, court documents said.

The Georgia pardons and parole board denied Fults' petition for clemency late on Monday. On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court declined to issue a stay of execution.

In the petition, which asked the board to commute Fults' sentence to life without parole, his lawyers described the inmate as intellectually disabled and deeply remorseful.

Fults pleaded guilty to charges of murder, burglary, kidnapping with bodily injury and possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime. A jury sentenced him to death in 1997.

The petition described Fults, a former gang member, as "the kid who fell through the cracks", with an alcoholic, drug-addicted mother who tried to abort him by drinking turpentine, an absent father and an abusive stepfather.

Three jurors who voted to give Fults the death sentence have expressed concern about the fairness of the punishment because they saw Fults' attorney sleeping during the sentencing trial, according to the petition.

Fults told the police he shot Ms Bounds by accident while in a "dream-like state", but the police found a letter in his trailer describing the killing in detail, court documents said.

The murder followed a week-long crime spree during which Fults tried to kill his former girlfriend's new boyfriend with a handgun stolen in an earlier burglary, according to court documents.

Fults accepted a final prayer and offered no statement before his death, the state department of corrections said.