UPDATE: State rests in Edmonds trial


UPDATE:Tyler Edmonds not guilty.

By Patsy R. Brumfield

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Tyler Edmonds must wait at least another day to learn if a circuit court judy will find him guilty or not guilty in the 2003 shooting death of his brother-in-law, Joey Fulgham.

Edmonds, 19, was 13 when he was arrested with his half-sister, Kristi Fulgham, for the Mother’s Day weekend killing of her husband. She was tried in 2006 and sentenced to death.

Friday, a jury from Attala County started deliberations about 4:35 p.m., but by 7:05 Judge Lee Howard decided it had been a long day and they should get some rest. They return at 8:30 a.m. today.

The jury of eight women and three men has three choices: guilty of murder, guilty of culpable manslaughter and not guilty.

His defense team – Jim Waide and Victor Fleitas of Tupelo, and Barry Snyder of North Miami, Fla. – sought to prove he lied when he told investigators that he helped Fulgham’s 26-year-old wife, Kristi, fire an old .22 caliber rifle bullet into the back of Fulgham’s head as he slept in his Longview community home in the early morning of Saturday, May 10, 2003.

Witness after witness testified to Edmonds’ non-violent nature and to Kristi’s manipulative personality, especially with men, and apparently the jury believed she initially convinced Edmonds to take the blame.

Kristi, convicted and sentenced to death in late 2006 for the same charge, had told Edmonds her husband beat her and their children, and that she wanted to get custody of Edmonds so he could live with her.

Four years ago, Edmonds was convicted in the murder, but the Mississippi Supreme Court in January 2007 ordered a new trial after finding numerous errors by the judge in his first trial.

Friday, Edmonds took the stand in his own defense to tell jurors he first lied to sheriff’s deputies that he had helped Kristi kill Joey.

“I did it to protect my sister,” he said from the stand, later admitting when he realized she was using him, he told Sheriff Dolph Bryan that Kristi told him she did it Monday at her mother’s home and that she asked him to lie because “they will kill me, I will never see my children again” if they discovered she did it.

Across the five-day proceedings, it became clear that while Kristi was a master manipulator, Edmonds also was a liar – to his mother about secretly visiting his father, to Joey about Kristi’s whereabouts when she was with other men, to law enforcement and perhaps others.

But his attorney, Victor Fleitas, made an emotional address to the jury before they went to deliberate:

“Can you fundamentally alter the nature of a human being?

“You cannot make a gentle, loving child into a cold-blooded killer.

“It’s not likely. It didn’t happen.”

Assistant District Attorney Frank Clark struck back with the rhetorical question: “Will the real Tyler Edmonds please stand up.”

“What is the truth?” he asked the jury, then quoted from Edmonds’ first statement to investigators: “’That me and Kristi killed him.’”

Clark told them, “As much as we don’t want to believe that’s what happened, that IS what happened.”

This jury was selected Monday from Attala County because of the court’s concern it couldn’t empanel local jurors after two highly publicized trials – Edmonds’ and Kristi’s.

Come back to djournal.com for Reporter’s View and read Sunday’s Daily Journal for more details.

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