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Tyler Wayne EDMONDS





Classification: Miscarriage of justice
Characteristics: Juvenile (13)
Number of victims: 0
Date of murder: May 10, 2003
Date of arrest: 2 days after
Date of birth: June 14, 1989
Victim profile: Joey Fulgham, 28 (his half-sister's husband)
Method of murder: Shooting (.22 caliber rifle)
Location: Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on July 26, 2004. Acquitted on November 1, 2008

photo gallery


The Supreme Court of Mississippi


On motion for rehearing - on writ of certiorari


Tyler Edmonds Acquitted

November 1, 2008

Tyler Edmonds is the 19-year-old Mississippi man who was tried and convicted of conspiring with his sister to murder his half-sister's husband.  He was 13 at the time.  In January 2007, his conviction was thrown out by the Mississippi Supreme Court (which, I might add, cited some of my reporting for reason in a concurring opinion).  In ordering a new trial, the court struck the testimony of now-former Mississippi medical examiner Dr. Steven Hayne.

Hayne improbably testified that the bullet wounds in the victim's body suggested there were two hands on the gun that fired that bullet, consistent with District Attorney Forrest Allgood's theory that Edmonds and his sister fired the gun simultaneously.  It was the first time the state's supreme court had ever thrown out Hayne's testimony in a criminal case.

Edmonds was retried last week in Starkville, Mississippi.  While Hayne was again allowed to testify, this time, he wasn't permitted to give his two-hands-on-the-gun theory.

This afternoon, the jury acquitted Edmonds on all charges.


Jury could start deliberations by mid-afternoon

By Patsy R. Brumfield - Daily Journal

October 31, 2008

STARKVILLE – Both sides completed their cases before noon today in the second murder trial of 19-year-old Tyler Edmonds.

In discussions between attorneys and Judge Lee Howard about jury instructions, it seems possible one may offer the option of a manslaughter conviction, which could carry less than the mandatory life sentence for murder.

After a lunch break, the jury is expected to hear closing arguments, legal instructions from Howard and then begin deliberations about whether the then 13-year-old helped his half-siter, Kristi Fulgham, killer her sleeping husband, Joey, during Mother’s Day weekend of 2003.

Trial proceedings began Monday with the a jury selection of eight women and four men.

While the trial is being conducted in Oktibbeha County, where the crime occurred, the jury was selected in Attala County, where court officials said they believed fewer people had heard about the case’s other two trials and fewer people might be directed connected to the principals.

Edmonds took the stand in his own defense about 8 a.m. He insisted he lied in an initial statement to sheriff’s investigators, telling them he had helped Kristi fire an old family .22 caliber rifle at the back of Joey’s head.

In a video of a second statement played for the packed courtroom, Edmonds told Sheriff Dolph Bryan and others he gave Kristi the gun because she had asked for one to kill a dog. When she tried to fire it behind their house on Friday of that weekend, Edmonds said she told him it didn’t work.

He said he was awakened between 3:30 and 4 a.m. Saturday to get ready for a trip to the Jackson, where Kristi planned to visit a boyfriend.

As he sat in the car waiting for her to leave the house, “I heard this pop,” he said. “I didn’t think anything else about it - I didn’t know what it was.”

He recounted the details of their trip to Jackson and then to Biloxi until Sunday afternoon. It didn’t vary from a previous account.

However, his story changed for late Sunday, when he said Kristi told him Joey was dead when they were just minutes away from her mother’s house near Meridian.

In her mother’s bedroom, Kristi told him “she did it,” he said, and she “needed me to help her.”

From there, Edmonds testified, Kristi concocted a story about how Joey’s shooting had been an accident.

“She messed up my motions big-time,” he said.

Edmonds’ defense team – Jim Waide and Victor Fleitas of Tupelo, and Barry Snyder of North Miami, Fla. – have tried to convince the jury their client was so thoroughly manipulated by Kristi that he lied about helping her kill her husband.

Numerous witnesses throughout the week have testified, sometimes emphatically, that Edmonds is not a violent person. Numerous others have testified to Kristi’s wiles at getting other people to do what she wanted, especially men.

This is Edmonds’ second trial on this charge. His first in 2004, which ended in a conviction and a life sentence, was thrown out in 2007 by the Mississippi Supreme Court, which cited multiple judicial errors by Circuit Judge James Kitchens Jr.

Judge Lee Howard is presiding over this trial. Assistant District Attorney Frank Clark is the prosecutor.

In late 2006, Kristi Fulgham was convicted of killing her husband and was sentenced to death.


Kristi Fulgham takes stand, remains silent

By Kelly Daniels - Starkville Daily News

Friday, 31 October 2008

Convicted murderer Kristi Fulgham had nothing to say Thursday when called as a witness for her 19-year-old half-brother’s murder trial in her husband’s 2003 shooting death.

Edmonds’ defense attorneys sent for Kristi, who is on death row, to testify on Edmonds’ behalf.

Though a red jumpsuit and bound wrists revealed the reality of her situation, she did not wish to incriminate herself amid hopes of a successful appeal.

With a blank expression, Kristi said that she would answer no questions.

“She is now in the women’s maximum security unit awaiting execution,” said Judge Lee Howard after Edmonds attorney, Jim Waide of Tupelo, explained why he wanted her to speak to the Attala County jury empaneled to hear Edmonds’ case.

However, Howard continued, when a witness is going through the appeal process, such as Kristi is doing, she has the right to keep her mouth closed.

Kristi, whose courtroom appearance lasted a minute and a half, had just left the stand.

She was convicted of capital murder in her husband Joey Fulgham’s killing and sentenced to death in 2006.

Edmonds, 19, half Kristi’s age, is being tried a second time for the 2003 murder of Joey Fulgham; his first conviction in 2004 was overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Edmonds was 13 years old when initially arrested soon after Fulgham’s body was found in his Longview home on Buckner Street.

Edmonds’ parents take the stand

The defense went ahead with its strategy to point to Kristi as the real murderer, not Edmonds, when his father, Danny, was called onto the stand.

Also Kristi’s father, Danny was accused by her when she was very young of molestation, a charge which he professed Thursday to have never denied.

“She asked me for a gun,” said Danny referring a conversation he had with Kristi before the murder. “She wanted to kill Joey.”

According to his testimony, Kristi informed him that Joey had a life insurance policy and that she was one of its beneficiaries.

“She was going to buy me a new Cadillac,” he said.

Separated from Danny when he was 3, Tyler was not allowed to see his father.

When he got older, however, Kristi took him to see his father in secret, although his mother said that he was allowed to see Danny as long as she were present.

Danny said he did not report Kristi’s statements to the police prior to the murder because he never knew when she was telling the truth.

“I didn’t believe her,” he said, during the cross examination. “Because she always lied ... She’d lie to get what she wanted.”

Danny reported trying to reason with her.

“I said, ‘If he’s mean to you, just leave him,’” he continued.

Danny was not allowed to answer Waide’s incomplete question, “Whose fault was it that Joey Fulgham?”

Danny Edmonds was also not allowed to confirm how many times he visited his son in jail.

Howard ordered the jury to disregard that question.

Edmonds’ mother, Sharon Clay, also took the stand to testify to Danny’s innocence and character.

Clay was an integral part of the confession scene that has been much talked about throughout the saga of Edmonds and Kristi.

“He said he was there to help his sister,” she said, referring to Edmonds’ presence at the Oktibbeha County Sheriff Department to give a statement. “I said no he wasn’t.”

Clay, who described herself as being “physically sick” that day, did not believe her son when he confessed that he “did it.”

Insisting he was not a violent person, Clay said he was not a liar unless he was under pressure.

“I knew he was lying,” she said. “It horrified me.”

When asked about his cooperation with authority, she said, “He’s never ever had any discipline problem— nothing.”

Multiple other character witnesses also testified on Edmonds’ behalf during Thursday’s trial proceedings.

Forensics questioned

A forensic pathologist for the defense, Dr. James Lauridson, made statements that contradicted Edmonds’ confession.

While his statements about the time and cause of death were in line with Dr. Steven Hayne, who testified for the state, Lauridson’s argument mainly concerned Joey’s head wound.

In his 2003 videotaped confession, Edmonds said that he saw blood “sprinkle” down the pillow upon which Joey lay after being shot with a .22-caliber rifle.

Lauridson said that a distant gunshot wound from a 22 caliber would leave only a small amount of blood around the rim of the wound.

He was not allowed to say whether or not this finding contradicted Edmonds’ statement.

During Edmonds’ first trial, Hayne’s analysis included the much publicized statement that it was “less likely” one person held the gun than if two people held the gun.

He made this observation based analysis of Joey’s wound.

The Mississippi Supreme Court overturned Edmonds’ guilty verdict in 2007, stating in a written order that Hayne’s testimony should not have been allowed as evidence.

Hayne, who Assistant District Attorney Frank Clark argued was the examiner of Joey’s body while Lauridson only reviewed Hayne’s report, has been removed from the list of approved medical examiners from which county prosecutors are encouraged to use.


Edmonds could ask U.S. Supreme Court to toss confession; victim's family objects

By Chris Talbott - Associated Press Writer

The Sun Herald

Sun, May. 27, 2007

JACKSON, Miss. -- When Tyler Edmonds sits down with his defense attorney in the coming weeks to prepare for a new trial in the killing of his brother-in-law, he will have many decisions to make.

None will be easy, but the most difficult choice likely will be whether to accept a possible plea deal or take his chances in court. Edmonds, now 17, has already served three years in prison and faces decades more if convicted again in the 2003 killing of Joey Fulgham.

"There will be enormous pressure on Tyler to engage in some type of plea bargain so as to avoid that life sentence, that mandatory life sentence," said Edmonds' attorney, Jim Waide.

The Mississippi Supreme Court recently ordered a new trial for Edmonds after ruling the first one constitutionally unfair.

The court did not throw out the teenager's contested confession, "which is really the only evidence," Waide said. He said he will urge his client to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to get the confession thrown out.

"The crucial issue in the case probably still has not been resolved - whether that confession is admissible," Waide said.

The confession came after the Oktibbeha County sheriff barred Edmonds' mother, Sharon Clay, from the room while her son was questioned, the court record said. The sheriff also brought Kristi Fulgham, Joey Fulgham's wife and Edmonds' alleged coconspirator, into the room to help coerce the then-13-year-old into admitting he was a willing participant in the murder.

Kristi Fulgham was convicted of capital murder in December and is awaiting execution, though her conviction will be automatically appealed.

Edmonds was freed last week on $75,000 bond.

Joey Fulgham's family said they are heartbroken that the Mississippi high court overturned Edmonds' conviction.

"We're living it all over again," said Shannon Fulgham, Joey Fulgham's brother. "Of course I'll have to re-testify to finding my brother dead in bed.

"We don't want to relive this year after year after year."

They also believe that Edmonds' confession, recorded on videotape, proves his guilt. They say he offers details that only the killer could know and that the attempt to throw out the confession will only lengthen their pain and suffering.

"You put your faith in the justice system and then it's all blown away," said Kim Fulgham, Shannon Fulgham's wife and Joey Fulgham's sister-in-law.

While the Mississippi high court's 4-3 decision to grant Edmonds a new trial did not address the confession other than to note that it is disputed, Justice Oliver Diaz wrote separately in the ruling that Circuit Judge James Kitchens Jr. erred when he allowed the confession.

Diaz said the sheriff acted improperly and violated the state's Youth Court Act when he barred Edmonds' mother from the room before a three-hour interrogation that resulted in the boy's confession.

Diaz writes: "On the videotape, just as he finishes confessing, one can see Tyler's mother force herself into the interrogation room to find that her son has confessed to the murder. In a heart-wrenching scene, Tyler tells his mother that he and Kristi 'did it,' all while sobbing, head in hands, unable to stand."

Waide said the U.S. Supreme Court rarely intervenes in such issues. He said he has handled four cases where the nation's high court has stepped in to decide questionable circumstances.

"This case has far stronger grounds for the court accepting than any of those other four I've had accepted," Waide said. "So I do think there's a substantial chance they would hear it."

Diaz said along with accepting the confession, Kitchens also erred when he did not allow an expert witness on false confessions to testify for the defense. When coupled with the mistake of allowing an expert witness to testify for the prosecution on a speculative two-shooter theory, Diaz said Edmonds' was doubly wronged.

"Unfortunately, this case provides a disheartening example of the double standard applied to expert testimony in criminal cases," Diaz wrote.

Kitchens has removed himself from the Edmonds case, turning it over to Circuit Judge Lee Howard.

The decision to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court will be Edmonds' to make. Waide said Edmonds has been an active participant in his defense since he was 13, making most of the major decisions with advice from several people.

He worries about the ramifications of a teenager making such important, life-altering decisions.

"It is putting me in a very interesting dilemma," Waide said. "I do not believe at age 13 that Tyler (was) capable of making decisions like that, didn't have the capacity to. But at the same time there's no clear state law that says he doesn't make those decisions. So it's been a really interesting pickle."


Tyler Edmonds' conviction overturned

By Ben Bounds - Starkville Daily News

Starkville, Mississippi - Thursday, January 4, 2007

The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday overturned Tyler Edmonds’ murder conviction and ordered a new trial for the teenager in the 2003 shooting death of his half-sister’s husband.

The Supreme Court granted Edmonds’ petition for a writ of certiorari and have found he was denied a constitutionally fair trial, reversed the judgments of the Court of Appeals and the Circuit Court of Oktibbeha County and is remanding his case to the circuit court for a new trial.

Edmonds appealed his conviction and sentence twice, and the Supreme Court assigned the appeal to the Court of Appeals.

Local prosecutors, however, said the Supreme Court’s opinion is unofficial until the court hands down a formal order. “In a 69-page opinion, the Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for Tyler Edmonds,” Assistant District Attorney Frank Clark said. “As of now, it is just an opinion, and has not been accompanied by a mandate. The Court of Appeals said over a year ago that there was no reversible or harmful error in Tyler’s trial. Apparently the Supreme Court disagreed.”

Clark would not comment further on the Supreme Court’s decision, but did address his office’s sympathies for the family of the victim, Joey T. Fulgham.

“We’re just heartbroken for this family,” Clark said. “It’s been three and a half going on four years, and they just need to have some closure on all of this. They haven’t done anything other than love their family member and be completely supportive and quiet throughout all of this.”

Clark’s fellow prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Patricia Faver, echoed his sentiments.

“There still has to be an official mandate from the Supreme Court, this is just an unofficial opinion,” Faver said. “Until there is an official mandate by the Supreme Court, which may be next week, two weeks or however long they decide it’s going to take them to do that, it’s not completely official yet.”

Faver said the Attorney General’s Office handles all of the district attorney’s appeals, not the district attorney’s office.

“What we are requesting that they do is file a motion for rehearing, just like they did with the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals had affirmed the decision, and then the defense went and asked for a new hearing. They revisited it and affirmed it again. That was a year and a half ago. The bottom line is, if this is what they want, if this is their official opinion, then we will try the case again.

“We are so sorry for the (Fulgham) family, Frank and I are,” Faver said. “They have been through two trials, two separate trials in two different counties. Twelve people from two different counties have found them both (Edmonds and his half-sister, Kristi Fulgham) guilty, and the Court of Appeals has affirmed it twice, saying not only that there wasn’t any error at all — it was a perfect trial.”

Andrea White, a close friend of Tyler’s and a juvenile justice advocate from Summit, Ark., spoke candidly Thursday about the Supreme Court’s opinion.

“Tyler’s mother called me to tell me the news shortly before 2 p.m.,” White said. “I hit the floor crying. You have no idea how hard we’ve all worked, and this is such retribution for all of us, and for Tyler especially. The highest court in the entire state just proved that what (Circuit Court Judge) Jim Kitchens did to a 13-year-old child was completely unconstitutional.

“It’s one thing to do something unconstitutional to anybody, but to do it to a 13-year-old child is another. God knows when things are going wrong and when people start doing people wrong, and God will always be the one who fixes it.” White said she believes this is the first step to Edmonds regaining his freedom “This is just amazing,” White said. “A lot of people thought that Tyler was going to spend the rest of his life in jail, but he’s not now. There’s no way.”

In a previous statement, White said this case troubled her more than anything in the world, because she used to have a deep faith in America’s justice system. “I’ve lost that and I won’t find it again until Tyler receives justice,” she said.

The state Court of Appeals upheld Edmonds’ conviction last year in the May 10, 2003, shooting death of Joey Fulgham while he slept in his Longview community home, just a few miles west of Starkville.

Now 17 years old, Edmonds was just 13 when he was arrested in 2003. He was convicted of murder in 2004 in Oktibbeha County.

Edmonds’ sister was convicted of the greater charge of capital murder last month and received the death penalty. She is the first woman ever convicted in Oktibbeha County of capital murder and sentenced to death.

Thursday, the Supreme Court said that Edmonds’ trial was tainted by unsupported testimony from forensic pathologist, Dr. Stephen Hayne, that Edmonds and his half sister pulled the trigger of the gun used to kill Joey Fulgham together.

The Supreme Court’s statement said prosecutors had no evidence to support a two-shooter theory.

Presiding Justice Bill Waller Jr., writing the major opinion, said Kitchens should not have allowed Hayne’s testimony about a two-shooter theory, practically ruling out a single-shooter theory. Hayne’s testimony states that the positioning of the weapon led him to believe that two people had pulled the trigger. Waller said such testimony was beyond Hayne’s area of expertise.

“While Dr. Hayne is qualified to proffer expert opinions in forensic pathology, a court should not give such an expert carte blanche to proffer any opinion he chooses. There was no showing that Dr. Hayne’s testimony was based, not on opinions or speculation, but rather on scientific methods and procedures,” Waller’s statement read.

Edmonds’ defense attorney, Jim Waide of Tupelo, said Hayne’s testimony was a major issue at the trial. “It’s always difficult to know what will influence the jury. I think his (Hayne’s) testimony was absurd and I was astounded that it may well have influenced how the trial came out,” Waide said. Waide said he is relieved that Tyler will get a new trial. “We’re back now where we started four years ago,” he said.

Waller said Kitchens, as the trial judge, also erred by excluding the testimony of Danny Edmonds, the father of Kristi Fulgham and Tyler, who told law enforcement officers that Kristi Fulgham had asked him for a pistol because “she wanted Joey dead” and that she would kill him in his sleep. Danny Edmonds also told officers that Kristi told him that Joey had several hundred thousand dollars in life insurance that would go to her if he were dead.

The trial judge ruled the statements were inadmissible hearsay. Waller said the statements indicated Kristi’s intention to murder her husband and corroborated Tyler’s defense that Kristi was the person who shot Joey Fulgham.

“Moreover, Danny Edmonds’ statement is corroborated by other evidence: Kristi had previously inquired about Joey’s life insurance with the National Guard, and Joey’s body was found in his bed, consistent with someone who had been shot in their sleep,” Waller said.

That same testimony was, however, allowed in Kristi Fulgham’s prosecution by Circuit Judge Lee J. Howard, and was considered to be some of the most damaging evidence against her by the prosecuting attorneys. Waller said the only direct evidence that Tyler was involved in Joey Fulgham’s murder was Kristi Fulgham’s allegations that Tyler killed Joey Fulgham and Tyler’s disputed confession.

“Tyler had absolutely no motive to kill Joey other than to please Kristi,” Waller said. “Tyler had no expectation of financial gain from Joey’s death. Kristi, on the other hand, had the means, the motive and the opportunity to kill Joey.”

Throughout Fulgham’s trial, the prosecution, Clark and Faver, who also tried Edmonds’ case, referred to Edmonds as one of the victims in this crime, and suggested that he was led astray by his older half-sister.


Miss. high court orders new trial to Edmonds

Jack Elliott Jr. - Associated Press

Thu, Jan. 04, 2007

JACKSON, Miss. - The Mississippi Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for Tyler Edmonds, throwing out the teenager's murder conviction and life sentence because he didn't get a fair trial.

Last year, the state Court of Appeals upheld Edmonds conviction in the shooting death of Joey Fulgham in 2003. Edmonds is 16 now. He was 13 when he was arrested in 2003 after Fulgham was shot to death at Fulgham's home west of Starkville. He was convicted in 2004 in Oktibbeha County.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court said Edmonds' trial was tainted by unsupported testimony from a forensic pathologist that Edmonds and his half sister, Kristi Fulgham, together pulled the trigger of the gun used to kill Joey Fulgham. Kristi Fulgham has been sentenced to death for the murder.

The Supreme Court said prosecutors had no evidence to support a two-shooter theory.

Presiding Justice Bill Waller Jr., writing for the Supreme Court, said the trial judge should not have allowed Dr. Stephen Hayne to testify about a two-shooter theory almost to the exclusion of a single shooter theory.

Hayne testified that the positioning of the weapon led him to believe that two people had pulled the trigger.

Waller said such testimony was beyond Hayne's area of expertise.

"While Dr. Hayne is qualified to proffer expert opinions in forensic pathology, a court should not give such an expert carte blanche to proffer any opinion he chooses. There was no showing that Dr. Hayne's testimony was based, not on opinions or speculation, but rather on scientific methods and procedures," Waller wrote.

Defense attorney Jim Waide of Tupelo said Hayne's testimony was a major issue at the trial.

"It's always difficult to know what will influence the jury. I think his (Hayne's) testimony was absurd and I was astounded that it may have well influenced how the trial came out," Waide said.

Waide was he was relieved that Tyler got a new trial.

"We're back now where we started four years ago," he said.

Assistant District Attorney Frank Clark, who helped prosecute the case, said Thursday that he had not seen the decision and had no immediate comment.

Waller said the trial judge also erred by excluding the testimony of Danny Edmonds, the father of Kristi and Tyler, who told law enforcement officers that Kristi had asked him for a pistol because "she wanted Joey dead" and that she would kill him in his sleep.

Danny Edmonds also told officers that Kristi told him that Joey had several hundred thousand dollars in life insurance that would go to her if he were dead.

The trial judge ruled the statements were inadmissible hearsay.

Waller said the statements indicated Kristi's intention to murder her husband and corroborated Tyler's defense that Kristi was the person who shot Joey.

"Moreover, Danny Edmonds' statement is corroborated by other evidence: Kristi had previously inquired about Joey's life insurance with the National Guard, and Joey's body was found in his bed, consistent with someone who had been shot in their sleep," Waller said.

Waller said the only direct evidence that Tyler was involved in Joey's murder was Kristi's allegations that Tyler killed Joey and Tyler's disputed confession.

"Tyler had absolutely no motive to kill Joey other than to please Kristi," Waller said. "Tyler had no expectation of financial gain from Joey's death. Kristi, on the other hand, had the means, the motive and the opportunity to kill Joey."

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Chuck Easley said Tyler, in his videotaped confession, said both he and Kristi put their hand on the trigger and she squeezed his hand to make the gun fire.

Easley said Hayne did not testify that his autopsy findings supported two people pulling the trigger. He said prosecutors asked Hayne if the results of his investigation would support Tyler's version of the shooting.

"Dr. Hayne testified that he favored the theory that someone helped position the weapon used to shoot Fulgham. This testimony was corroborated by Edmonds' confession that Kristi assisted him in shooting Fulgham," Easley wrote.

Easley said Danny Edmonds' testimony was inadmissible because there was nothing to collaborate it. He said Kristi's decision that she would not testify meant Danny Edmonds' testimony was hearsay.


15-year-old guilty in slaying

Tyler Edmonds sentenced to life in prison after 6-hour deliberation

By Steven Griffin -

Mon Jul 26, 2004

STARKVILLE — Jurors on Saturday found 15-year-old Tyler Edmonds, charged with capital murder in a scheme to kill and rob his half-sister's ex-husband, guilty of the lesser charge of murder.

Edmonds showed little emotion as the verdict was read about 5:50 p.m., almost six hours after jurors began their deliberations at Oktibbeha County Circuit Court.

Judge Jim Kitchens sentenced Edmonds to life in prison.

Kitchens had allowed jurors to consider lesser charges of murder and culpable negligent manslaughter because it was unclear if Edmonds knew about the robbery or whether the .22-caliber rifle that killed Joey Fulgham would actually fire. Edmonds made a videotaped confession to police, but recanted it four days later.

"He's trying to be strong," lead defense attorney Jim Waide said as disappointed family and friends filed out of the courtroom amid muffled sobs.

Waide said he plans to appeal.

Kristi Fulgham, 27, Edmonds' half-sister, also is charged with capital murder. No trial date has been set for Fulgham.

The case attracted national attention because Edmonds was only 13 when he was charged and was tried as an adult. Kitchens ruled earlier in the week that CourtTV, CBS' 48 Hours and other local television stations would not be allowed to videotape trial proceedings.

Assistant District Attorney Patricia Faver begged jurors during her closing arguments Saturday not to make a decision based on Edmonds' age.

"If he was 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, would we be having this conversation? No," Faver said. "He looks like he belongs in a principal's office, not in prison."

Joey Fulgham was found in the bedroom of his home in the Longview community in Oktibbeha County on May 11, 2003. He had been shot once in the head.

Edmonds testified Thursday that his half-sister killed her ex-husband alone and told him to take the blame for her because she told him authorities would not prosecute a juvenile.

But in his videotaped confession, Edmonds said they both pulled the trigger.

Defense attorney Rob McDuff argued the only thing the prosecution had to go on was a "confession that makes no sense."

McDuff argued that there was no physical evidence linking Edmonds to the crime scene or to corroborate his confession.

The prosecution pointed to the videotaped confession Edmonds made to deputies May 12, when he said, "I looked away and we squeezed."

They said most of Edmonds' confession was consistent with expert witness testimony during the case, including where he said he saw blood after firing the shot and when the crime occurred.

Waide recalled transcripts of the confession tape for the jury and showed where some of Edmonds' statements contradicted each other, such as details about how he and his sister were holding the gun.

Waide said the court should have allowed an expert to testify about false confessions.

But Assistant District Attorney Frank Clark said people who visited the youth at the jail prompted him to change his story.

"Once (Edmonds) realized the trouble he was in ... that's when this whole other story came up," Clark said.



Edmonds convicted after 6 hours of jury deliberation, sentenced to life

By Conswella Bennett/Starkville Daily News

Mon Jul 26, 2004

Emotions ran high late Saturday afternoon in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court after a jury convicted West Point teenager Tyler Edmonds, of murder in the shooting death of his half-sister's husband last year.

Friends and family milled around the Oktibbeha County Courthouse awaiting the verdict Saturday after the jury began deliberating around noon after Edmonds' week-long trial on a capital murder indictment.

After almost a six-hour deliberation, the jury found Edmonds, 15, guilty of murder. The decision was a unanimous vote by the jury as required by law, and the jurors were polled individually to verify the verdict.

Edmonds' was sentenced minutes later to life in prison with the possibility of parole at the age of 65, and he must petition the circuit court judge and not a parole board for release at that time.

The jury had four possible choices to choose from: Guilty of capital murder, not guilty of capital murder, murder, or manslaughter.

After the verdict was read, Edmonds showed no emotion. Edmonds' mother, Sharon Clay, burst into tears, as did several of Edmonds' friends and relatives. Clay eventually ran from the courtroom to the nearby law library, where she could be heard crying from the hallway.

Joey Fulgham's family members also began crying when the verdict was read. Joey's mother, Ann Cash, covered her eyes and wept, clinging to her younger son, Shannon Fulgham.

Circuit Court Judge Jim Kitchens presided over the trial and before reading the sentence, Kitchens gave both the Fulgham family and Edmonds an opportunity to speak. Both refused.

Kitchens requested Edmonds and his defense team to stand before him as he read the sentence. After reading the sentence, Kitchens spoke directly to Edmonds: "I understand you love your sister, and you maintained your innocence. I think she (Kristi Fulgham) led you into something you didn't want to do, now you've got to live with it."

Nodding his head to Kitchens before being led away by sheriff's deputies, Edmonds looked at his mother, who sat crying comforted by family members.

Jim Waide, Edmonds' lead attorney, said he plans to file routine motions next week to begin appealing Edmonds' conviction

"Tyler is determined to be strong. He knows he didn't commit this crime, and he's determined to get that proven," Waide said. "I believe we have a world of grounds for an appeal."

An emotionally drained Waide said he believed that not being allowed to include an expert opinion on false confessions to be included and the admittance of the confession without his mother's presence were crucial points to his case.

Clay, finally able to gain her composure after learning of her son's fate, said she and her family are determined to continue to fight for her son's life.

"We are just going to keep fighting because my son is innocent," Clay said.

Clay said she was not surprised when her son opted not to speak to the court.

"Sometimes less is better and right now less is better," she said.

Now, Clay said she will continue to turn to prayer to help keep her and her son strong.

"I'm not going to give up on him. I love him," she said.

All week long, Clay and the family of Joey Fulgham have both received an outpouring of support from friends, relatives and citizens from surrounding communities. Clay said for her the support of her friends, family and others had been wonderful.

"There would have been more but there was not enough seating capacity," Clay said.

Members of a Florida-based advocacy group, Under Our Wings, had been present to show their support for Clay and Edmonds. The organization said they are concerned with the unconstitutional, spiritual and inhumane issues involved in charging and trying youth as adults.

"We're not going to give up. We're not going to give up," Clay assured. "It's not fair. He is a child, and we will continue to fight until he is vindicated."

Edmonds' father, Danny Edmonds, refused to comment. Members of the Fulgham family also refused to comment.

Stephanie Mallette, one of Kristi Fulgham's attorneys, said after the Edmonds trial that she will start pretrial motions. The next phase will be to determine a trial date.

Mallette, who had been present throughout the Edmonds' trial said, "It's certainly unusual -- rarely do you get to see the state's case before you go to trial." Mallette said it would probably be next spring before Kristi Fulgham's trial could take place.

Assistant District Attorney Patricia Faver, the lead prosecutor on the case, would not comment on the verdict, citing state ethics rules that applied because she is still charged with prosecuting Kristi Fulgham.

Closing arguments: The prosecution

The final day of the trial began at 8:30 a.m. Saturday with closing arguments.Assistant District Attorney Frank Clark began with the prosecution's closing arguments and spoke of bringing the "nightmare" to an end.

The nightmare began May 10, 2003, when Joey Fulgham was shot in his home at 2163 Buckner St., in the Longview Community. Fulgham was found in his home on May 11, 2003 by his younger brother, Shannon.

"Shannon saw a glimpse of that nightmare, and it's a nightmare that will never end," Clark said. "It's a nightmare for Joey Fulgham's family and for those who loved him and that's why we're here -- what he's done and a human life's been taken. We're here because it matters."

Those who commit crimes must be held accountable, Clark said in closing arguments.

Recounting the events that led up to the nightmare and the different accounts of Edmonds' statements regarding his involvement in the shooting, Clark told the jurors that the case was about Edmonds bringing the .22 rifle to Kristi Fulgham.

Clark recounting earlier testimony by Edmonds, said Kristi Fulgham, who is also charged with capital murder in the shooting said, "she stood behind me, put her hand on the trigger with me, and I looked away, and we squeezed. That's what this case is about, "we squeezed."

But, the final building block, Clark said was capital murder, "it's the easiest to find. It's the one we've proven. This instruction (capital murder) is your road map, it shows the things the state had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt," Clark said.

"We're here today not because who the defendant is, but what he did. It doesn't matter the defendant is 13, 33 or 103 years old. He (Edmonds) still has to be held accountable. He knew the difference between right and wrong," Clark said.

Closing arguments: The defense

Robert McDuff, Jackson attorney assisting Waide gave the beginning closing arguments for the defense.

"We don't even believe the facts that Tyler (Edmonds) should even be here," McDuff said. McDuff said that he and Robert Smith, another Jackson-based attorney assisting Waide, were honored to be here representing Edmonds.

"He was 13 years old when he was locked up. He turned 14 locked in the Oktibbeha County jail and turned 15 locked in the jail," McDuff said. "He's spent all this time locked in jail because he loved and trusted his sister -- an evil and manipulative woman," McDuff said.

McDuff told the jury that there was no physical evidence linking Edmonds to the crime. McDuff said that Kristi Fulgham got Edmonds involved in the "adult cesspool of her life."

"You're sitting in judgment of a 13-year-old child who's now 15. I think the evidence is clear, he didn't do this - If you have any doubt, he's to be found not guilty," McDuff said.

McDuff urged the jury not to think that manslaughter was an acceptable compromise in the case, "he's not guilty of anything."

"Tyler has paid the price for the last 15 months. He needs to go home and the only way that will happen is if he is acquitted of all charges," McDuff said. "He hasn't been proven guilty and certainly not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Kristi ruined the last 15 months of his life, don't let them ruin any more of his life."

In the final portion of the defense closing statement, Waide stood before the jury.

Waide's emotions overcame him early as he spoke about Edmonds plot to see his father.

"Tyler knew how important it was to have a relationship with his dad. He got it through his sister, Kristi," Waide said.

Waide reminded the jury that when Kristi did not show up to pick him up Thursday as had been planned to take him to his fathers, he began calling his father that Friday morning. "He called six times, 'I want my daddy! Come get me' does that sound like to you that they were planning a murder, he wants his daddy but nobody comes," Waide said.

Waide gave in to his emotions at various parts of his closing arguments. Waide said he turned to his friends, Smith and McDuff, to assist him with the case because, "I get so angry thinking about this case, I can't control myself, and I needed some help."

After hearing four days of testimony, Waide told the jury, "I believe you'll apply your good common sense. I don't know where you go to church, the blacks probably go to a black church, the whites to a white church and if you're fortunate like me you go to a church with both blacks and whites.

"At the end of the service, the pastor says, 'Choose the path you'll go.' When Tyler gave his third confession (videotaped on to Sheriff Dolph Bryan) he twisted a rubber band on his wrist, now he's wearing a different bracelet "WWJD."

Closing arguments: The prosecution's rebuttal

With the toll of the case weighing on everyone, Faver gave an emotional closing argument. Faver restated the last words of Waide's closing remarks: "Choose the path that you want to go."

"Tyler Edmonds chose that path May 10, 2003," Faver said.Faver told the jury that Edmonds chose his path.

"He knew right from wrong. He was 14 in less than a month with an IQ of 119. He was in the gifted program. He had choices. He knew right from wrong," Faver emphasized.

"For them to come in here and portray him as a good innocent kid, I want to say will the real Tyler Edmonds please stand up," Faver said, visibly emotional and pointing in Edmonds' direction.

Fighting back tears, Faver spoke of Joey Fulgham's children and their cries of, "I want my daddy."

"Yes, I'm angry now. I'm emotional. I've been called everything from 'Ice Queen' and the 'Heartless Prosecutor,' but what he (Edmonds) did is wrong," Faver said.

Faver fought back the tears, and members of the Fulgham family cried, as she spoke of Joey's children not having their father around for T-Ball games or ballet.

"What you have to decide is if you'll follow your oath," Faver said.Faver reminded the jury that when she showed Edmonds a photograph of the wound in Joey Fulgham's head, "he showed no emotions, no sympathy, no sorrow -- will the real Tyler Edmonds please stand up?"Faver encouraged the jury to look beyond Edmonds' boyish "Harry Potter" looks.

"If he was 6'1" and 200 pounds, would all these people have come? No, but because he looks like Harry Potter, all these people are here," she said.

"This is not easy. This is not easy for me, but I took an oath to uphold the constitution and the laws of the state," Faver said.

"As hard as it may be for me at times, I follow that oath. All I'm asking you to do is to follow yours."Passionately, Faver asked the jury to judge the verdict on the evidence.

"Base your verdict on the evidence. Follow your oath," Faver said.


Case History

Tyler Wayne Edmonds was a 13 year-old honor student at his West Point, MS, middle school in May, 2003.  He had no history of violence, gang affiliation or proclivity to anti-social behavior.  Tyler attended his local church regularly and respected adult authority.  Anyone who has ever met Tyler would say he is a sweet, loving kid who likes to help and please others. 

Even so, he was arrested and charged with the murder of Joey Fulgham from the Longview Community in Starkville, MS on May 12, 2003.  The arrest was based on a false confession Tyler gave to the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office.  There was no physical evidence showing that Tyler participated in the crime. 

The murder occurred during the early morning of Saturday, May 10.  Kristi Fulgham, Tyler’s half-sister and Joey’s ex-wife, admitted to Tyler she killed Joey on Sunday, May 11.  Kristi was 27 years old at the time of the murder.  She told him that the authorities would “kill me” (give her the death penalty) and she would never see Tyler and her three young children again.  Kristi also told Tyler the nothing would happen to him if he confessed to the crime because he was a minor.  He loved and trusted her enough to confess to a murder he did not commit

Tyler had a very close relationship with Kristi who had an incredible amount of influence over him.  Both share the same biological Father, Danny Edmonds.  Danny and Tyler’s Mom, Sharon Clay, were divorced in 1993 when Tyler was about 4 years old.  For various reasons, Tyler was not allowed to see Danny after the divorce.  As Tyler grew up, he longed to know his Dad.  Kristi arranged for Tyler to have weekend visits with Danny, unbeknownst to Sharon, between the ages of 12-13.  Kristi’s leveraged Tyler’s covert relationship with Danny as a way to gain further control his mind and heart.  Consistently, she would ask Tyler to lie to Joey and various other boyfriends to cover her tracks during affairs.  Kristi also used Tyler to take care of her kids and clean her home (wherever she was living at the time). 

At one point, Kristi convinced Tyler she would be a better parent/guardian for him than Sharon. She took him to the Department of Human Services to obtain custody even though there was no evidence of abuse or neglect by Sharon or Tyler’s stepfather.  One could possibly interpret her relationship with Tyler as a grooming process for another end.  The Fulgham marriage had a long history of marital tumult and domestic violence, which escalated when she disclosed her third child was fathered by Joey’s best friend.  In fact, the Fulghams discussed this topic during an appearance on the “Montel Williams Show” in 2000.  Also, Kristi mistakenly thought she was the beneficiary of Joey’s $300,000 life insurance policy.  Any motivation to harm Joey belonged to Kristi Fulgham.

During the 2003 Mother’s Day weekend, Tyler was supposed to spend the weekend with Danny through Kristi as he had done before.  At that time, Kristi was divorced from Joey.  She had been living with Joey since March, 2003 having lived in Jackson, MS with a boyfriend named Kyle Harvey.  Kristi and her three children had moved back with Joey until she could get her own place.  Joey did not know about Kyle and vice-versa.  Kristi would have Tyler lie for her to cover her tracks with both.  In the weeks preceding that Mother’s Day weekend, she asked Tyler various times to bring over an old .22 caliber rifle.  Kristi said there was a stray dog running around and she wanted to kill it.  Tyler was very reluctant to bring this old gun because he didn’t like the thought of killing the dog.  Tyler’s disposition is non-violent to the point where he and a classmate was known to feed stray cats after school. 

Also, during Kristi Fulgham’s 2006 trial, Danny Edmonds testified that Kristi had asked him a week before Joey’s death to provide a gun to kill him.  She also promised Danny part of the life insurance proceeds if he complied.  Kristi kept pressing Tyler over and over to bring the gun and he finally gave in and brought it that weekend.  Although Tyler brought the gun, he was very confident it could not be used due to the gun being in such poor condition.  When Tyler was 12, he was spending a lot of time with his brother Ryan and his cousin Randy. During this time, the boys had been attempting to repair the gun so they could use it for hunting. 

In Tyler’s 2004 trial and Kristi’s 2006 trial, Randy testified that Tyler tried to pull back the plunger of the old .22 and was not strong enough to do it.  Ryan had to pull it back for him.  Randy testified in both trials that the plunger was difficult for anyone to pull back. 

Randy testified in Tyler’s trial that “He (Tyler) pulled the trigger and acted real scared and then handed the gun.. the .22 back over to his brother and said he wasn’t going to shoot the weapon . .  he wasn’t going to shoot the gun in the house”.  Furthermore, Randy testified that the .22 did not go off when Tyler pulled the trigger.  Finally, during Tyler’s trial, Randy testified “I believe that Tyler would not hurt anybody.  Tyler is a very non-violent person”. 

During Kristi Fulgham’s 2006 trial, Randy also testified that Tyler did not like to hunt animals because “animals were too pretty to kill”.  Randy’s testimony clearly showed that while he was pressured into bringing the .22 to shoot the stray dog, Tyler believed it was a non-functioning weapon.  Tyler wanted to mollify Kristi and not aid in the killing of a stray dog.  Randy’s testimony also clearly indicates that Tyler is a non-violent child

Tyler did not have school on Friday, May 9 and Kristi promised to pick him up after school on Thursday.  She didn’t show up but later promised to pick him up on Friday morning.  Kristi was a no-show again on that Friday because she was in Jackson with Kyle.  So, Tyler spent the better part of Friday calling his Dad’s secretary, hoping his Dad would come get him.  Danny would not comply because he didn’t want to cause a “big deal” with Sharon. 

Kristi finally picked him up on Friday afternoon around 4:00 p.m.  They went to Joey’s house where Kristi tried shooting the .22 in the backyard.  The gun would not fire.  Joey came home around 5:00 p.m.  Two of the Fulgham children were picked up by Joey’s ex-Father-in-law around this time.  He lived nearby and the kids often stayed the night with him.  Joey, Kristi, Tyler, and the other child hung out for awhile and then went out to get some Subway sandwiches.  They ate, and Joey went to bed while Kristi spent the evening on the computer.  Tyler laid by Kristi’s feet during this time.

Later in the evening, she instructed him to sleep in one of the kid’s beds.  Tyler went to sleep and awoke the next morning around 4:00 a.m. to an alarm Kristi had set.  She told him to gather her child, get in the car, and they would go.  She also told him to put the home computer, excluding the monitor and keyboard, in the trunk. 

Although Tyler did not physically see the .22 in the pre-dawn darkness, he thought the .22 rifle was in the front area of the car trunk, since Kristi had put it there after the gun failed to fire on the previous day.  Tyler also thought they were going to his Dad’s house in Columbus, MS.  Tyler put the child in the car, started the engine, played with the radio, and waited. 

During that time, he heard a “pop” sound coming from the house.  He thought nothing of it since Kristi had a cat that tended to knock things over around the house.  She came out, closed the trunk, and got in the car.  Kristi gave Tyler a wallet to put in the glove box.  He did as he was told thinking it was Kyle’s.  They picked up the other two kids and took a route that was not the usual way to Danny Edmonds’ house.  Tyler asked Kristi what was going on and she said their plans had changed.  They were picking up Kyle in Jackson and going to Gulfport/Biloxi for the weekend.  Kristi said Danny was ok with it.  Tyler really had no other choice and went along.

They picked up Kyle in Jackson and headed to Biloxi where they checked in at the Beau Rivage.  Kristi paid for it all.  She could afford lodging at a luxury hotel because she had taken over $1,000.00 cash in Joey’s wallet from his recently cashed paycheck.  This was the wallet she gave Tyler in the car.  Tyler had no idea who paid for what because Kyle took care of the check-in transaction at the Beau Rivage. 

They spent Saturday at the beach and riding Sea-Doos around the hotel’s waterfront.  The group left on Sunday between Noon-1:30 p.m.  After Kyle was dropped off in Jackson, he received a phone call from Kristi’s former best friend, Sonja.  She told him that Joey has been found dead and not to tell Kristi, as she was driving en route to Starkville.  Regardless, Kyle called Kristi and informed her.  Kristi then received a call from her Mom who asked her to come to her house in Meridian instead of going to Starkville.  Kristi did not tell Tyler about Joey’s death until a few minutes before arrival in Meridian.  He spent some time outside Kristi’s parents’ house playing with the kids while Kristi and her parents talked inside. 

After awhile, Tyler went inside and found Kristi crying in a bedroom.  He consoled her, and also cried when Kristi admitted she killed Joey.  She told him that the authorities would “kill me”, take her children away, and he would never see her again.  Kristi then told him that her only way out was for him to confess to the authorities that he killed Joey, telling the boy nothing would happen to him since he was a minor.  Tyler looked at Kristi like she was “crazy” but trusted and loved her enough to comply.  Her first instruction was for Tyler to deny anything happened at all and they knew nothing about Joey’s murder.  If that didn’t work, she would give him a “signal” and he would admit to killing Joey, but say it was an accident.  They spent the night in Meridian.

On Monday, Tyler traveled to West Point with Sonja, who had arrived in Meridian that morning to offer support.  She dropped him off in the late afternoon (around 5:30 p.m.).  Sharon knew Joey was dead but had no idea what really happened and had no reason at that time to suspect Kristi.  The Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office called her around 6:00 p.m. and wanted to speak with Tyler.  Both arrived at the Sheriff's office, signed a Miranda waiver, and spoke with the officers.  Sharon had no problem with the police questioning Tyler as long as she was present. 

Tyler followed Kristi’s direction and denied knowing anything about Joey’s death.  There was no audiovisual record of this interview.  At the same time, Kristi had been arrested and was sitting in a holding cell onsite.  She had already given a statement indicating Tyler alone had killed Joey.  The officers told Tyler his story didn’t add up because Kristi had told them something different.  At this juncture, an officer asked Sharon to step outside so they could  speak ro Tyler alone and she complied. 

During this period, the officers told Tyler that Kristi stated he alone killed Joey.  Tyler said he didn’t believe she would say something like that.  They offered to bring her in to tell Tyler what she had told them.  The officers placed Kristi in a nearby office, moved Tyler to that location, and sat him beside her.  Sharon was not aware Kristi was involved in the interrogation in any way.  While seated next to Tyler, Kristi took his hand, squeezed it, and said “I’ve told the truth and now it’s time for you to tell the truth”. Seemingly, this was the signal she had directed him to follow the previous day. 

The exchange lasted 20 seconds and the officers removed her from the room.  This exchange was never allowed as evidence during the trial.  In the least, Kristi’s interaction with Tyler points to a possible coercive influence on the confession that followed.

At this point, Tyler told the officers he would like to give another statement, but he did not want his Momma (Sharon) present.  He wanted to tell her what occurred after speaking to them first.  Tyler knew he couldn’t fulfill Kristi’s request with his Momma present.  The officers brought Tyler out to a break room where Sharon was seated.  They waited together for a time until an officer stood Tyler up and told Sharon he needed to speak with Tyler for “a minute”.  Tyler was then seated back in the original interview room with two officers and signed another Miranda waiver (he was yawning and clearly tired while signing the document). 

This interview was videotaped and given at 8:48 p.m.  (Much of this written description of that interview and all interview quotes came from the videotape).  Tyler told them that Kristi had picked him up on Friday, May 10.  He indicated very early in the interview that Kristi had been talking about killing Joey for awhile and said, “She told me about the gun.  I told her I had a gun, but it didn’t work.  It was an old gun and wouldn’t shoot.  I got that (the gun) just to say ‘I tried’, so she’d stop asking me about it.  So it couldn’t hurt (anyone)”. 

Tyler said he finally brought the gun on Friday to make her happy.  He told the officers they committed the murder together in the pre-dawn of May 10.  Tyler did not fulfill Kristi’s request by saying he did it alone.  His decision to confess that both of them participated can be interpreted as the mind of a child trying to fulfill Kristi’s immoral and manipulative request while reconciling in his child’s mind that he could never commit such an act alone.

His statement of how the murder occurred is contradictory at best.  Tyler told them during his original confession that they held the gun together and pulled the trigger together.  However, he could never give the officers a clear picture of how the weapon was held by the both of them. 

He said, “We went into his room and I didn’t seriously think it would work and she was behind me and she put her hand on the trigger and I put my hand on the trigger.  And she kind of squeezed my hand because we didn’t think it would work.  I was holding the gun like this (indicated the gun butt was on his right shoulder)  . . . and she had her hand on mine.  She had her hand (he looked confused) . . . I knew it was in front of me somehow.  So I just closed my eyes (turned his head to the left) and did it and it went off.  I didn’t actually think it would go off because it was broke”. 

An officer asked where the gun came from.  Tyler responded, “It had been in my Dad’s (step-father’s) closet for at least 3 or 4 years.  Nobody ever used it.”  He then said, “We did it and she took the computer and some stuff to make it look . . .”.  An officer asked, “Wait a minute- whenever the shot was fired, was she behind you?  Was she aiming for you”?  Tyler responded, “No.  I don’t guess so.  I was just holding the gun.  I wasn’t really aiming at anything”.  The officer asked, “Did you have it on your shoulder right here”?  Tyler said, “Yeah, I had it right here (indicateds his right shoulder).  I wasn’t really aimin’.  I was just pointin’ it somewhere”.  According to this testimony, Tyler did not know if Kristi was aiming the gun (“I don’t guess so”) and indicated he “wasn’t really aiming at anything”.  The question of who actually aimed the weapon cannot be answered.

From there, an officer asked “And her hand was around in front of you on the trigger?”  Tyler responded with “No, she just had . . .  I guess she was with one hand, I don’t know where her left hand was.  But she had her right hand like right here (he put his hand on his stomach to show this) on my stomach and we did it and then after that I heard it go off and I looked at him (Joey) and saw that it actually hit him”. 

In this statement, Tyler said that he had the gun on his right shoulder with his right finger on the trigger, having no idea where Kristi’s left hand was located while her right hand was on his stomach.  Kristi is right-handed.  This scenario is illogical because somehow she helped pull the trigger with her right hand on his stomach and her left hand missing with nobody aiming the gun!

The officers then asked, “Do you know where it hit him?”  Tyler shook his head “no” and looked somewhat confused.  The officer went on to ask, “How do you know that it hit him”?  Tyler responded, “Well, there was like … I saw some blood . . . it was on a pillow I guess . . . somethin’ white.  And there was just some little sprinkles and I thought it was blood and I (inaudible) and I was cryin’.  But I didn’t think you know, it would really go off and I couldn’t believe that I did it.  And then she took stuff to make it look like somebody broke in”.  Crime scene video later indicated the pillow casing and bed sheets were a beige color with patterns, not white.

From there, an officer asked, “She did have her hands on the gun when it went off”?  Tyler replied, “I’m not sure”.  The officer responded, “Not sure”?  Tyler responded with “cause . . . (again, he looked confused and tired)”.  The officer then asked, “When she was standing beside you . . .?”  Tyler responded with, “She was like right here beside me (he takes his left arm/hand and touches his left side)”.  The officer asked, “Did she ever tell you to shoot him or pull the trigger”?  Tyler responded with “She . . .”. 

The officer asked, “Did she say anything when she was standing behind you”?  Tyler said, “I don’t know . . . I wasn’t really (he looked unsure, turned his head to the left for a brief moment and then turned his head to the right). . .  I just closed my eyes.  I was just lettin’ everything go . . . not payin’ attention . . . tryin’ to stay out of it”.  This testimony again shows the contradictory, confused nature of his story.  Kristi’s interaction with Tyler during his interrogation and the apparent inconsistencies in his confession point to the distinct possibility that his confession was coerced and false.

At this point, the interview covered picking up Kristi’s other kids, driving to Jackson to pick up Kyle Harvey, and going to the Beau Rivage in Biloxi.  The group stayed overnight and returned to Jackson on Sunday afternoon.  Around the time Tyler spoke about the trip to Gulfport/Biloxi, Sharon stepped in and learned that her son had been speaking without her consent (again, she specifically asked this not be done).  The interview was stopped at that time.  Tyler was arrested for the murder of Joey Fulgham and remanded to a cell in the county jail.

Two days later Tyler gave a recantation.  The recantation indicated that as previously mentioned, Kristi had asked Tyler for a gun to shoot a stray dog.  Tyler brought the old .22 which Kristi unsuccessfully tried to fire on that Friday.  Tyler awoke at 4 a.m., put her child and the computer in the car at her request, and they proceeded to meet Kyle Harvey and spend the weekend at the Gulf Coast. 

After dropping of Kyle in Jackson, then hearing about Joey’s death, they proceeded to Meridian.  While in Meridian, Kristi coerced Tyler to lie to the authorities about the murder she committed.  Tyler went back to West Point, met Sharon and proceeded to the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office where the interrogations occurred.

The Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s office never found the murder weapon or any physical evidence to indicate Tyler was involved.  The only physical evidence in the case other than the bullet was Kristi’s fingerprints on the front porch, motion-sensing lights.  The lights had been disabled before the police secured the crime scene.

The fingerprints could possibly indicate that Kristi did not want anyone to see her departure that Saturday morning.  The fingerprints also could possibly indicate that she did not want anyone to see a potential third party entering the residence at a later time.  Nobody other than Kristi will ever know what motivated her to disable the motion sensing lights.  Tyler was not given bail during the time before his trial after three attempts although he had no criminal record and did not give any indication of being a flight risk.  Tyler was tried and found guilty of first degree murder and robbery. 

Judge Jim Kitchens did not allow Tyler an expert witness on false/coerced confessions (Dr. Allison Redlich) during the trial.  However, Kitchens allowed the prosecution’s forensic pathology expert witness to give an opinion (undisclosed during discovery) that two people pulled the trigger.  The opinion defied logic and was unsupported by any scientific methodology.  Further, this expert witness claimed he was board-certified to be a forensic pathologist in the state of Mississippi. 

However, an October, 2006 Reason Magazine article stated that Hayne “isn’t certified by the American Board of Pathology, the only organization recognized by the National Association of Medical Examiners and the American Board of Medical Specialties as capable of certifying forensic pathologists.  According to depositions from other cases, Hayne failed the American Board of Pathology exams when he left halfway through, deeming the questions ‘absurd’.  Instead, his C.V. indicates that he’s certified by two organizations, one of which (the American Board of Forensic Pathology) isn’t recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.  The other (the American Academy of Forensic Examiners) doesn’t seem to exist.  Judging from his testimony in other depositions, it’s likely Hayne meant to list the American College of Forensic Examiners.  According to Hayne, the group certified him through the mail based on ‘life experience,’ with no examination at all.  Several forensics experts described the American College of Forensic Examiners to me as a ‘pay your money, get your certification’ organization.  A February 2000 article in the American Bar Association Journal makes similar allegations, with one psychologist who was certified through the group saying, ‘Everything was negotiable-for a fee’.”

Judge Kitchens did not allow the defense to actually present any evidence that Kristi Fulgham, acting without Tyler, had the motivation (mainly money) and the will to kill Joey Fulgham.  Testimony that Kristi asked Danny Edmonds for a gun to shoot Joey and promised him part of the life insurance money was not allowed by Kitchens. 

Further, a 2000 appearance on the “Montel Williams Show” showing the tumultuous nature of Kristi and Joey’s relationship was not allowed into testimony at Tyler’s trial.  This appearance showed that Joey would remind Kristi during daily arguments that “She messed up, big” in reference to her child fathered by his best friend.  Dr. Hayne’s “two-fingers on the trigger” theory and the non-admittance of the “Montel Williams” videotape were critical factors in the recent Mississipi Supreme Court ruling to reverse Tyler’s sentence and remand his case back to the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court for a new trial (please see the entire Mississippi Supreme Court ruling in the “Supreme Court Appeal Articles” section of the Case History area). 

Another potentially influencing factor in the outcome of Tyler’s trial was the jurors were instructed by Judge Kitchens that Tyler could not get the death penalty but did not indicate that Tyler could be given an automatic life sentence if convicted.  Further, Judge Kitchens had the discretion to move the trial to youth court, especially since Tyler had no criminal record, history of violence, or gang affiliation. 

Also, Judge Kitchens did not allow the defense to indicate that Tyler recanted his confession.  Finally, Judge Kitchens did not allow television cameras into the courtroom denying Tyler the right to a public trial, and denying the public and press their first amendment rights.  With these various factors taken into account, it is apparent Tyler Wayne Edmonds was not allowed a constitutionally fair trial.

Tyler’s non-violent nature would never allow him to participate in this heinous act. Kristi Fulgham had a very strong motivation to kill and rob Joey Fulgham (money) where Tyler had absolutely none.  However, Kristi Fulgham’s extremely coercive influence pushed Tyler to make a false confession to crimes he did not commit.   The inconsistencies from Tyler’s confession along with Kristi’s direct influence during his interrogation point to a false confession.  Further, there is absolutely no physical evidence to implicate Tyler in these crimes.  Tyler Wayne Edmonds is innocent of these crimes.  Free Tyler Edmonds!



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