Friday, May 21, 1999

Killer's drug problem told

Family hopes he'll avoid death penalty

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Relatives of convicted killer Fred Furnish, attempting to save him from a death sentence, described to Kenton Circuit Court jurors Thursday how Mr. Furnish was changed by his drug addiction.

        The same jurors who found Mr. Furnish, 31, guilty of murder and other charges in the strangulation of Jean Williamson, 66, must now decide whether to recommend a death sentence or a jail term.

        His father, Fred Furnish Jr. of Florence, talked about his son from his days as a normal young boy who spent equal time with his dad and his grandparents in Covington, through the late teen years when he began to use drugs and went to prison for burglary.

        “He was a happy kid,” the father explained. Under questioning by defense attorney Bill Spicer, he said he did not realize his son was using drugs until he was arrested and sent to prison for the first time when he was 18.

        Melissa Vogt, Fred Furnish's aunt with whom he lived at various times after he was released from prison, said she tried to keep him out of trouble by urging him to stay home when he wasn't working, even keeping beer on hand for him so he wouldn't go out.

        She said her nephew came to her for help in getting into a drug rehab/detoxification program in Dayton, Ky.

        Under examination by Kenton Commonwealth Attorney Don Buring, she said he could not keep a job, apparently because of his drug problems, and was even fired by her husband's company.

        Jurors are expected to hear at least two more defense witnesses today and may begin deliberations on sentencing this afternoon.


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