Fulford Killer Dies By Lethal Injection

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By Emerald Greene, Publisher
Greene Publishing, Inc.
I watched as Paul Howell died, by lethal injection. Last year, I was asked by the Florida Press Association to be a state witness/media witness to the execution of Paul Augustus Howell. Howell was convicted of the 1992 murder of FHP Trooper Jimmy Fulford. The execution was scheduled for Feb. 26, 2013. However, the day of the execution, Howell was granted a stay of execution. For the last year, Howell has remained at the Florida State Prison on Death Row. Last month, his execution was once again planned. The date of Feb. 26 was yet once again picked as THE day his execution would be carried out and the time set was 6 p.m. On Wednesday, Feb. 26, I left Madison County at 1:30 p.m. headed to Raiford to the Florida State Prison. At 3:30 p.m. I, along with six other media representatives, met at the Media Staging Area, across the street from the prison, for a brief meeting with prison staff. It was reported at that time that Howell had eaten his last meal, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He had one family member visit him earlier in the day and, upon his request, he had a Catholic spiritual advisor to come visit him. At 5 p.m., all the media witnesses were put in a white van and transported into the Florida State Prison. Once inside, we were checked for contraband and then staged inside a break room to await the movement into the Death Chamber. At 5:50 p.m., we were led out of the break room down a large corridor, walked through a series of security gates and got into another waiting van. We were transported about a quarter of a mile down to the Q Wing where Death Row and the death chamber are housed. The van stopped within feet of the building. The door was unlocked and we walked into a hall. One turn to the right and we were in the witness chamber. We joined 14 other witnesses who were already seated in the room. It was a very clean room, neatly painted white and well lit. There were four rows of chairs. A total of 25 state witnesses (16 men and nine women) occupied the 40 provided chairs. In front of us was a large pane of glass, approximately 9’x3.’ We could not see into the death chamber, for a large drawn curtain had been lowered across the glass. Each one of us stared straight ahead, not a word being spoken. At 6:15 p.m., the curtain was raised. Howell, who was strapped onto a gurney, quickly raised his head and stared into the witness chamber, at each one of us. The gurney was facing the pane glass window; Howell was outstretched on it and covered with a sheet. The only things exposed were his head and arms. There were leather straps on both wrists, Ace bandages wrapped around his hands, and IV ports in both arms. There was nothing else in the room besides a telephone on the wall (to keep an open line between the Death Chamber and the Governor’s office) and a digital clock on the wall. At 6:16 p.m., Howell gave his final words. “I apologize to the Fulford family for what happened back in 1992,” he began. He then made the statement that he had told Lester (Watson), “Don’t let a cop get in the car.” He then began to recount the story that led up to that fateful Feb. 1, 1992 day. He explained how he had originally planned on placing the bomb in a television set, but that Yolanda (his cousin) told him that he should put the bomb in a microwave because she (the woman in Marianna) would use the microwave to heat up the baby’s bottles. He said he had thought that was a good idea, so he built the bomb and put it in a microwave. Howell then said, “I told Lester, ‘No matter what happens, don’t let the police get in that car. I’m sorry about that and God bless you.”’ He ended his final words by saying he felt the Fulford family was a very compassionate family and he had always remembered that. Howell then laid his head back on the gurney, closed his eyes, and began praying. At 6:18 p.m., it was announced that the execution process would begin. Howell still appeared to be praying, his lips moving and his eyes looking around the room. At 6:19 p.m., he had closed his eyes and lay motionless. Between 6:20 and 6:21 p.m., there were slight movements and twitching in Howell’s body. At 6:22 p.m., Howell was checked by the team warden to assess whether he was, in fact, unconscious. At this point, the team warden advised the executioners to continue forward in the execution and the lethal “medicine” continued to be injected. At 6:31 p.m., the team warden checked for signs of life from Howell. Upon finding none, a medical examiner was advised to enter the room. The medical examiner then checked Howell for vital signs. At 6:32 p.m., Paul Augustus Howell, convicted murderer, was pronounced dead. At 6:33 p.m., the curtain that separated the witness chamber and the death chamber was lowered. All 25 witnesses were then escorted from our seats, back into vans, and back to our destinations. However, before the media witnesses left for the evening, there was a short interview with Major Mark Welch of the FHP. He stated, “Twenty-two years ago this month, the patrol lost one of its most courageous and brave officers, Trooper Jimmy Fulford. “Rather than reflect on the incident that happened this night, we prefer to use this opportunity to honor Trooper Fulford and let this serve as a reminder of the dangers that law enforcement officers face each and every day they put on their uniform and leave their homes and their families behind.” Jimmy Fulford was a resident of Madison County and was killed during the line of duty in Jefferson County, at the Aucilla exit. He was only 35 years old, a husband and the father of two small children. Fulford has always been described as a man who “loved God,” a man you could “trust completely” and a man who “loved the Florida Highway Patrol.” It was said that Fulford’s life was a true testimony and witness for Christ, for he was a good Christian man. Fulford was also described as someone who went into law enforcement in order to help people, not for a power trip nor for catching people, but for his love of helping people. Jefferson County Sheriff David Hobbs was also one of the state witnesses for Paul Howell’s execution. Following the execution he had this to say, “Jimmy was a good friend. I wanted to do it (witness execution) for him; for I know he would have done the same for me. “When he was killed I didn’t just lose a good friend, but we ALL lost a good friend. But worst of all, his family lost him, too. It’s been 22 years coming and I’m just glad it’s finally over.”

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