Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker offers the following information on the execution of Wallace Marvin Fugate, III, who was executed at 9:46 p.m. on August 16, 2002.
The Superior Court of Putnam County filed an order setting the seven-day window in which the execution of Wallace M. Fugate, III could occur to begin at noon, August 14, 2002, and end seven days later at noon on August 21, 2002. The Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, acting pursuant to his authority under the Georgia Code, then set the specific date and time for the execution as 7:00p.m. on August 14, 2002. Fugate had concluded his direct appeal, as well as state and federal habeas corpus proceedings.
On May 4, 1991, at approximately 5:00 p.m., Deputy Sheriff Clarence Harper of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department found the victim, Pattie Fugate, seated in her front yard, slumped forward, with her forehead touching the ground. Pattie Fugate’s fifteen-year-old son, Mark, was sitting by her side holding her hand and holding a portable phone in his other hand. (T. 393) There was a puncture wound in the left frontal lobe of the victim’s skull, which exposed brain tissue. (T. 100). The police learned that on the day of the murder, the victim and her son Mark worked at Hallman’s Wood Products from approximately 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (T. 403-405). When the victim and her son got off work, they stopped at a farm and then went home, intending to pick up their clothes and go to South Carolina for the weekend. (T. 470). As they pulled into the driveway, they noticed that Mark’s Mustang was backed halfway out of the garage, and the hood was up. (T. 471). Mark jumped out of the car and found a new battery in the Mustang with a charger hooked up to it. (T. 471). Mark and his mother assumed that Wallace Fugate, the victim’s ex-husband and Mark’s father, had been at the house and left, despite the fact that there was a restraining order against him preventing him from visiting his ex-wife’s residence. Fugate had threatened to kill his ex-wife if he ever caught her alone. (T. 471-472). When the victim found the front door unlocked, she called her sister and then told Mark to go downstairs to put their clothes in the dryer. (T. 472). Mark got halfway to the bottom of the stairs, when he heard keys rattling and ran back upstairs and got his rifle. Id. When Mark turned on the light in the basement, Mark saw Fugate’s feet sticking out from around the door. (T. 473). Knowing the gun was loaded, Mark pointed it at Fugate and told him to get out. Fugate, who had a revolver in his hand, walked around the corner. Fugate snapped the trigger but there were no bullets in the rifle. (T. 473). Fugate pushed Mark out of the way and ran upstairs, while Mark yelled for his mother, who was still on the telephone with her sister, to call police. (T. 474). Mark followed Fugate upstairs and caught up with him in his mother’s room. (T. 471). Fugate grabbed the victim and began beating her with the butt of his pistol. (T. 474). The victim struggled as Fugate grabbed her by the hair and dragged her out of the house. (T. 475). When Mark ran to help his mother, Fugate pointed the gun at his son. The gun went off and a bullet hit the floor. Although the victim resisted, Fugate was able to drag her out of the house to the driver’s side of her van while he was beating her. (T. 476). Fugate was able to get the victim halfway in the driver’s seat of her van, but she still resisted being pushed inside. Id. Mark threw objects in the driveway, attempting to prevent Fugate from leaving with his mother. (T. 477). When Fugate was not able to push the victim into the van, he put a gun to her face, tilted her head back, and shot her in the forehead. Id. The struggle between Fugate and the victim lasted less then 5 minutes. After Fugate shot the victim, she went limp and fell over. (T. 479). One of her legs was under the tire, and Fugate moved her leg, got into the van, backed up spinning out of the driveway, and drove away taking the gun with him. (T. 480). Fugate claimed that he walked to the victim’s house to use the phone and fix the starter on his son’s car, but stated as he was getting ready to leave his son and the victim drove up. (T. 461). Fugate admitted he was armed but claimed that the gun fell out of his pocket during a fight between him and the victim and had accidentally discharged. The upper pane in the basement window was cracked and had a hole in it. The bullet that killed the victim was found in the van after Fugate was arrested and the autopsy revealed the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the forehead. (T. 525, 534).
The Putnam County Grand Jury indicted Fugate for murder, burglary, kidnapping with bodily injury, two counts of aggravated assault, and theft by taking motor vehicle. Fugate was found guilty as charged on all counts by a jury in the Superior Court of Putnam County, Georgia on April 29, 1992. On April 29, 1992, Fugate was sentenced to death for the murder charge. He also received a life sentence for kidnapping with bodily injury, a 20 year sentence for burglary, a 20 year sentence for aggravated assault, a 20 year sentence for aggravated assault, and a 10 year sentence for theft by taking.
The Direct Appeal
The Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed Fugate’s convictions and sentences in Fugate v. State, 263 Ga. 260 (1993).
First State Habeas Corpus Petition
Fugate, represented by Mr. Stephen B. Bright, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Butts County, Georgia, which was denied, following an evidentiary hearing, on January 10 and 11, 1996. The Supreme Court of Georgia subsequently denied an application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal on April 24, 1997. Fugate did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court from the denial of state habeas corpus relief.
First Federal Habeas Corpus Petition
Fugate filed petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia on December 10, 1997. Petitioner raised three main issues: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel during both phase of his capital trial; (2) improper admission of evidence and (3) prosecutorial misconduct. The federal district court denied relief on all of Fugate’s claims in Fugate v. Turpin, 8 F. Supp. 1383 (M.D.Ga. 1998).
Appeal to the Eleventh Circuit
On appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, the Court affirmed the denial of federal habeas corpus relief to Petitioner. Fugate v. Head, 261 F.3d. 1206 (11th Cir. 2001).
The United States Supreme Court denied Petitioner’s petition for a writ of certiorari on May 24, 2002.