Thursday, September 21, 2000

Killer of girl, 2, pleads for his life

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — In a calm, steady voice, Christopher Fuller, convicted of killing his 2-year-old daughter while trying to rape her, asked a Butler County jury Wednesday to spare his life.

        “I am truly very sorry for what has happened,” Mr. Fuller said, reading an unsworn statement to the jury. “I ask you to forgive me and to recognize that my life has some value and significance.”

        After more than three hours of deliberation Wednesday, the common pleas court jury failed to decide whether to recommend a death sentence for Mr. Fuller.

        Judge Matthew Crehan sequestered jurors at a Hamilton hotel at 6 p.m. The jury will resume deliberations this morning.

        The jury convicted Mr. Fuller Tuesday of aggravat ed murder and attempted rape in the March 21 death of Randi Fuller, who died of suffocation.

        The jury can recommend the death penalty, life in prison without parole, life with parole eligibility after 30 years, or life with parole eligibility after 25 years. Judge Crehan will impose the sentence.

        Mr. Fuller, 30, had told police that Randi angered him 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.

        Prosecutors said he also pressed on her chest and covered her mouth for at least four minutes, causing her to suffocate.

        Mr. Fuller also told police he had raped Randi in May 1999 and again last February. He will stand trial later on two rape charges connected to those incidents.

        Mr. Fuller's attorneys portrayed him to the jury Wednesday as a man who overcame a troubled childhood, graduated from high school despite below-average intelligence, served his country in the Army for seven years and held steady work.

        A psychiatrist testified that he suffered from a disorder that made it difficult for him to express emotions and to understand abstractions and interpersonal relationships.

        “My client did everything right for 30 years,” Mr. Fuller's attorney, Christopher Pagan, told the jury in his closing argument Wednesday. “If you execute Chris, you fail to acknowledge those 30 years.”

        Mr. Fuller's mother, Janice Fuller, testified Wednesday that she and her husband gave custody of their five children to relatives because of poor home conditions.

        She said Christopher lived with an aunt and uncle from age 5 to 18. She said that although the breakup of the family was traumatic for Christopher, she visited him every day and he had a better life than before.

        Mrs. Fuller cried on the witness stand when defense attorney Ron Morgan asked her how it would affect her if her son received the death penalty.

        “It would hurt me deeply,” she said after regaining her composure. “It would just about kill me.”         But Butler County Prosecutor Dan Gattermeyer argued that Mr. Fuller deserved no mercy.

        “Where's the mercy in killing a 2-year, 11-month-old child?” he said. “She didn't have a chance against him.”


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