Friday, September 22, 2000

Jury urges death for child-killer


Judge to decide final sentence in murder case

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — After more than six hours of deliberation over two days, a Butler County jury on Thursday recommended death for Christopher Fuller, who was convicted of murdering his 2-year-old daughter while trying to rape her.

        Mr. Fuller maintained his emotionless demeanor after Judge Matthew Crehan read the jury's decision.

Fuller
Christopher Fuller
        His wife, Jessica, tearfully hugged Prosecutor Dan Gattermeyer. Mrs. Fuller had testified against her husband in the nine-day trial.

        “Violence against children is the worst possible offense,” Mr. Gattermeyer said. “When someone kills a little child while trying to rape her, it's horrible. That's why we have the death penalty.”

        Judge Crehan will impose a sentence Oct. 9. He could follow the jury's recommendation and sentence Mr. Fuller to death, or he could give him life in prison without parole, or life with parole eligibility in 25 or 30 years.

        On Tuesday, the jury of seven men and five women convicted Mr. Fuller, 30, of Hamilton, on two counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted rape. One aggravated murder count is for killing someone during a rape, and the other is for killing a child under 13.

        During police questioning on the day of Randi Fuller's death, Mr. Fuller said he became angry when she resisted his attempt to sexually assault her in their Hamilton house.

        He said he hit her in the chest twice with his open hand. But prosecutors said he also suffocated her by pressing on her chest and covering her mouth. Mr. Fuller also told police he had raped Randi in May 1999 and last February. He will stand trial later on two rape charges.

        Mr. Fuller's attorneys, Ron Morgan and Christopher Pagan, said a life sentence would be more appropriate than the death penalty because of his crime-free life up until Randi's slaying.

        “What occurred on March 21 was an aberration,” Mr. Morgan said. “There are no other negatives in his life that demonstrate that he's an evil person.”

        Judge Crehan asked defense attorneys and prosecutors to submit written arguments for Mr. Fuller's sentencing.

        “We still contend that on the basis of Chris' 30 years of law-abiding behavior that this isn't an appropriate case for the death penalty,” Mr. Pagan said.

        Mr. Morgan said that after he was led from the courtroom Thursday, Mr. Fuller told him he had no malice toward anyone.

        Hamilton Police Detective John Nethers, the lead investigator in the Fuller case, said this was an emotionally difficult case to handle.

        “I've gotten used to seeing dead adults at crime scenes,” he said. “But I don't think I'll ever get used to seeing dead children.”

       



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