Wednesday, July 07, 1999
Killer sentenced to death
Crestview Hills woman strangled
BY AMY CAPPIELLO
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COVINGTON Fred Furnish must die for strangling a Crestview Hills widow in her home a year ago, a Northern Kentucky judge ruled Tuesday.
It is the first time in 11 years a Northern Kentucky crime has resulted in a death penalty.
Kenton Circuit Judge Steven R. Jaeger ordered Mr. Furnish, 31, of Covington, put to death for the June 1998 home-invasion strangling of Jean Williamson, 66.
The court does not believe there are questions in anyone's mind that you committed these crimes ... that you murdered Jean Williamson in her home, in a place where she should have felt safe, Judge Jaeger told Mr. Furnish as he issued the sentence.
Neither Mr. Furnish nor his relatives showed any emotion as Judge Jaeger issued the sentence, but Mrs. Williamson's relatives fought to keep back tears. They declined to comment.
Bill Spicer, one of Mr. Furnish's attorneys, tried to get Judge Jaeger to bypass the jury's recommendation of death in favor of life without parole or life without parole for 25 years.
The case now faces automatic appeals.
A housekeeper found Mrs. Williamson in her home June 15, 1998. While there was no sign of forced entry, Mrs. Williamson's jewelry boxes had been ransacked. Mr. Furnish became a suspect after a May 19, 1998, carpet cleaning receipt with his name was found on Mrs. Williamson's kitchen table.
Mr. Furnish, who has a history of burglary convictions, was arrested three days later. Investigators discovered he had used Mrs. Williamson's debit card with minutes of her murder, and police said he used the cash and her jewelry to buy crack cocaine.
His actions following the murder also led prosecutors to charge Mr. Furnish with burglary, robbery, theft and receiving goods by fraud. Those convictions brought Mr. Furnish the following sentences.
Burglary: 15 years in the state penitentiary, increased to 30 years for being a persistent felony offender, to run consecutively with the death sentence.
Robbery: 20 years in the state penitentiary, increased to life in prison for being a persistent felony offender, to run consecutively with the death sentence.
Theft: two years in the state penitentiary, increased to 10 years for being a persistent felony offender, to run concurrently with the death sentence.
Fraud: two years in the state penitentiary, increased to 10 years for being a persistent felony offender, to run concurrently with the death sentence.
Two other men are on Kentucky's death row for crimes in Northern Kentucky:
Gregory L. Wilson, 42, the last man in Kenton County to be given the death penalty, was sentenced in 1988 for kidnapping and murdering Deborah Pooley. He and a female accomplice forced Ms. Pooley into the back seat of her car, where Mr. Wilson raped and strangled her while the accomplice was driving.
William Eugene Gall, 52, was sentenced to death in 1978 in Boone County for the rape and murder of Lisa Jensen. He abducted her from near her Cincinnati home, took her to Walton, and raped and shot her.
He later robbed a grocery store, where he shot a Kentucky State Police trooper who was trying to apprehend him.
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