Jury selection begins for murder trial
Published: Monday, April 2, 2012 at 6:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 2, 2012 at 6:40 p.m.
If convicted, Joshua Fulgham could join his estranged girlfriend, Emilia Carr, on death row.
Jury selection for Fulgham’s trial began Monday morning, with about 300 prospective jurors at the courthouse. Lawyers for the state and defense will try to seat a 12-member jury.
Authorities believe the couple lured Heather Strong, Fulgham’s 26-year-old wife, to a storage trailer in a small town north of McIntosh. They tied her to a chair and suffocated her by tying a plastic bag over her head. They are accused of burying the body in a shallow grave behind the trailer.
Fulgham and Carr were charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping. Carr was found guilty of the charges and became the fourth woman on Florida’s death row in February 2011.
Now Fulgham is standing trial. By Monday afternoon, the jury pool had been whittled to just more than 100. The judge and attorneys also settled pre-trial motions. The jury screening process, or “voir dire,” resumes this morning.
In court on Monday, Fulgham’s attorneys, Terence Lenamon and Tania Alavi, argued about redacted phone conversations Fulgham had with Carr while he was in jail. The defense team wanted the full conversations played in court to provide better context.
Lenamon told the court that the defense does not deny that Fulgham was at the scene of the murder. He also said the defendant offered to plead guilty to the murder in exchange for a life sentence.
The defense attorneys also argued about whether a statement Fulgham made to the victim’s mother in 2004, which the state characterized as a threat, should be admissible evidence.
Circuit Judge Brian Lambert denied that motion; the jury will hear about that statement.
Fulgham, now 30, appeared in an all-red jumpsuit, heavily shackled and surrounded by bailiffs in the courtroom. He occasionally passed notes to his defense attorneys’ aides as Lenamon and Alavi argued on his behalf.
If found guilty, Fulgham would become the seventh man on Florida’s death row from Marion County. There are currently 397 men sentenced to death.
The last man sentenced to death in Marion was Renaldo McGirth, in May 2008, for the murder of a Villages woman during an attempted armed robbery.
Lambert handed down that sentence.
Contact Vishal Persaud at 867-4065, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @vishalpersaud.
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