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Age and murder culpability in the Joey Fulgham trial

January 5, 2009
Student alone

This morning’s episode of Banfield & Ford covered the final Joey Fulgham murder trial. Fulgham’s wife was already convicted. Today’s case was the retrial of her 13-year-old accomplice. Here’s a rundown*:

On Friday, May 9, 2003, Kristi Fulgham, who was married to the victim Joey Fulgham, picked up her thirteen-year-old half-brother, Tyler Edmonds, to take him to the Fulgham home in the Longview community as she did every other weekend. She and Tyler have the same father, Danny Edmonds.

Tyler’s videotaped confession relates the following series of events: After arriving at Kristi and Joey’s home, Tyler and Kristi went out for Subway sandwiches for dinner. After dinner, Joey went to bed, while Kristi stayed up and used the computer.

Tyler fell asleep on the floor next to Kristi, and during the night, she woke him up and put him in the bed of one of her children. Between three-thirty and four o’clock the alarm clock went off, waking Tyler. He then went into the bedroom where Joey slept and, with Kristi’s help, shot Joey in the back of the head with a .22 caliber rifle that Tyler had brought with him at Kristi’s request. Kristi and Tyler then loaded her three children into the car and took the computer and her jewelry, which, according to Tyler, was to make it look as if there had been a robbery. Tyler said he also thought Kristi took Joey’s wallet. They then traveled to Jackson.

The gun was never found.

The group went to Jackson to pick up Kristi’s boyfriend, Kyle Harvey, and then went to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. They stayed at the Beau Rivage and played on the beach. On Sunday, Tyler called his mother and wished her a happy Mother’s Day. On their way back to Jackson, Kristi received several cell phone calls telling her that Joey had been murdered.

Both Tyler and Kristi voluntarily appeared at the sheriff’s department for questioning in Joey’s murder. Kristi placed total blame on Tyler, and Tyler eventually confessed to participating in Kristi’s plan. Tyler was indicted for capital murder and tried as an adult in circuit court. The jury returned a guilty verdict and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. After his notice of appeal was filed, [the Miss. Supreme Court] assigned the case to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the judgment and sentence.
The Supreme Court granted certiorari and threw out some of the prosecutionโ€™s evidence. Edmonds was acquitted on retrial.

I thought trying a 13-year-old as an adult was a bit extreme, but I changed my mind during the showโ€™s debate: There was a psychologist who claimed a 13-year-old is so impressionable…

…so impressionable that he does not enough independent judgment to know that blowing someoneโ€™s head off with a rifle is wrong. 

I was 13 when I started high school. Court TV, Law & Order, John Grisham, and Columbine were all part of my life. You couldnโ€™t have convinced me or any of my friends to blow someoneโ€™s head off. You could convince Mike from down the street, but he was a different case… most 13-year-olds aren’t that impressionable.

Maybe my clique was street-smart, but Wichita wasnโ€™t exactly the Bronx. I think a 13-year-old is enough to know murder is wrong*


*Summary from: Edmonds v. State, 955 So. 2d 787 (Miss. 2007)
*Whether or not Edmonds participated in murder is another matter, but I think the prosecution was fair.

Also, according to this site Edmonds was acquitted on Nov 1st, 2008.

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