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Suspects in killings often have records

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David Fulkrod wasn't the suspicious type, especially with someone he spoke to regularly while working security at CMC Recycling on Old Savannah Road.

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Cameron Chance's uncle was shot and killed while working as a security guard. The man convicted of the murder had 16 prior arrests.   Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Cameron Chance's uncle was shot and killed while working as a security guard. The man convicted of the murder had 16 prior arrests.

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Fulkrod worked evenings. Often, Charles Maxwell Tyler would stick around to chat while waiting for his ride after his shift ended, said Cameron Chance, Fulkrod's nephew.

Fulkrod couldn't have known Tyler was the last person he should trust. With a criminal record that stretched back years, Tyler could have been locked up, instead of out looking for easy cash, when he murdered Fulkrod on June 4, 2008.

Like Tyler, nearly a third of the 139 suspects arrested on murder charges in Augusta since 2005 had a criminal record. He and 20 others who faced murder charges over that nearly six-year stretch were on the streets because they were on probation.

Tyler, then 26, was following his usual routine of stealing in the early morning hours that day in June. This time, however, he also killed Fulkrod in the process.

"Uncle Dave was soft-spoken. He was just a big ol' teddy bear," said Chance, who grew up living next door to Fulkrod.

District Attorney Ashley Wright said criminal behavior becomes "easier to do the second time around. Normal, law-abiding citizens can't understand why common criminals are given so many chances."

Tyler was given a number of chances before eventually committing the crime that sent him to prison for life, plus 25 years. By the time he killed Fulkrod, Tyler had already been arrested 16 times in Augusta.

His criminal history started with a misdemeanor marijuana arrest in December 2000. Then there was a theft in 2001. He faced armed robbery and aggravated assault charges when he was accused of taking part in the mugging of a restaurant delivery man. Those charges, however, were dropped because someone else took the blame, the prosecutor wrote in court documents.

Tyler went into shoplifting in 2003 and 2004, then moved on to stealing and breaking into businesses.

Tyler got probation for breaking into his girlfriend's mother's home in April 2004 to steal jewelry. He was caught thanks to a pawn shop's record-keeping. The case was dropped to a misdemeanor when the victim told prosecutors she didn't want to press charges.

Six months later, in October 2004, Tyler was stopped by a deputy who spotted him casing businesses along Wrightsboro Road in the wee hours. Tyler was arrested on traffic charges and, during an inventory of his car, officers found a weapon stolen in July 2003, $3,536 in lottery tickets that were stolen during a 4 a.m. gas station burglary earlier that month, $300 in cash, a stereo and bolt-cutters. He was charged with two counts of theft by receiving for the stolen weapon and lottery tickets.

Out on bond again, Tyler was arrested two months later. On Dec. 28, 2004, at 4:45 a.m., an employee at the Bojangles' on Peach Orchard Road was in the back getting things ready when she heard a crash at the front of the store. When she went to investigate, she found Tyler standing in the middle of the restaurant. He was charged with burglary.

When the theft and burglary cases went to court, Superior Court Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet sentenced Tyler to 18 months in jail, followed by 31/2 years on probation.

Tyler could have been sentenced to as much as 40 years in prison.

Overstreet said he didn't remember Tyler's case or what the prosecutor and defense attorney said at the sentencing hearing. But he would have relied on the attorneys, he said, because they are the ones who know the details of the crimes as well as the strengths and weaknesses for each side.

You could write a book about the different things a judge has to consider at sentencing, Overstreet said. "There's no easy answer to it."

One of the hardest duties Neal W. Dickert had as a judge was sentencing, he said. He served as a Superior Court judge for nearly 11 years before returning to private practice in 2007.

"It's a judgment call you have to make. It's tough," Dickert said. A judge has to do his best to concentrate, review all the information possible and rely on the attorneys and staff. As a judge, Dickert said he always sought to do the best with the facts in front of him when it came to sentencing, but many days he faced more than 20 people on a sentencing calendar -- people whose lives would be deeply altered by the decisions he made.

A pattern of behavior

Jimmy Lee Jones altered Layotya Singleton's life on April 14, 2007, and he should not have had that opportunity, officials say now.

Jones put a gun to the back of Singleton's head that day and pulled the trigger. Her death mirrored that of another victim of Jones -- Stacy Rollins -- nearly 11 years earlier.

In both cases the women had broken off relationships with Jones. In both cases Jones claimed he just went to the victims' homes to talk, and that the gun fired by accident.

Singleton was on her knees when shot in the back of the head. Jones' earlier victim was running away when he emptied his gun, hitting her three times.

Jones pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for the July 5, 1996, shooting. He could have been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Overstreet gave him seven.

In hindsight, it is obvious Jones' first sentence was inadequate, Wright said. But with Jones, if it was seven or 17 years, he was likely to do it again.

Locking criminals up keeps them out of the community and protects society for a time, but there are only so many cells, she said. They need to be reserved for violent criminals and those who make crime their business.

Joshua B. Ferguson, 53, was a career crook before he was charged with stabbing to death Rodney A. Crane and Jesse Haynes last year.

The longest Ferguson has ever made it in the world outside prison since he was a teenager is 33 months.

His first arrest, for robbery, was in May 1971, when he was 15. Three years later, Ferguson was sent to prison for theft. He was free on parole only eight months when he was accused of burglary and attempted rape -- charges a prosecutor dismissed because the Augusta Police Department did nothing to investigate the case, according to court records.

In June 1979, he was caught breaking into a building supply business. He got a 10-year prison sentence in 1980 for that crime, but was paroled two years later.

On June 3, 1984, Ferguson stabbed Alfred N. Golack to death after an argument outside a Sunset Avenue nightclub. The charge was reduced from murder to manslaughter, and Ferguson was sentenced to five years in prison.

Ferguson served all five years behind bars before returning to Augusta. He made it 33 months before committing two burglaries. He was convicted, imprisoned and released again on May 3, 2007.

Just over two years later, on May 20, 2009, sheriff's officers found Crane, 27, with Haynes, 42, who was bleeding to death inside an apartment.

Most of those found guilty of murder in Augusta who had prior convictions didn't have long records like Ferguson. Most only had a single conviction or two. But more than half were on probation or parole.

Nathaniel Smith was sentenced to five years probation for theft in June 2009. He was arrested on murder charges the following month.

Kelvin Johns was paroled on May 14, 2009. He was charged with murder and armed robbery on Aug. 26.

Tavaris Samuels participated in the robbery and murder of Daniel McGee only five days after being sentenced in December 2008 to a five-year probation term for cocaine possession.

Finding a solution

Imprisoning everyone for every possible crime won't solve the problem of criminal behavior, said Tod Burke, criminal justice professor at Radford University in Radford, Va. It would mean endless expansion of expensive prisons.

"I don't blame the community for being angry," Burke said. "But (crime) is a community problem. All the blame can't be thrown on the criminal justice system."

People need to think rationally about what is the best approach to not only punish but deter and rehabilitate, he said.

Burke agrees that violent criminals should be imprisoned, but prisons are mostly filled with nonviolent criminals.

Tyler fell into that category until he killed Fulkrod. He had no prior conviction for a violent crime but he didn't hesitate to kill Fulkrod for a 2-ton bale of copper tubing, according to evidence presented during Tyler's trial.

Chance, who had to testify at his uncle's trial, said there were discussions with the prosecutor about plea negotiations.

One offer was that Tyler would plead guilty for a 30-year prison sentence. Chance said he understood that going to trial is always a risk to both sides, but believed that this time Tyler shouldn't get any breaks.

Chance said he wanted Tyler in prison for the rest of his life.

"(My uncle) didn't have a chance," he said. "He had a flashlight -- no way of defending himself."


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Repeat Offenders

Of the 139 murder suspects arrested since 2005, 42 have records of felony convictions. Twenty one of those suspects were on probation at the time and five were on parole.

Criminal History

Shaun Perdue was 17 when he started his criminal record.

In less than 10 years, Perdue committed three misdemeanor offenses; was convicted of having sex with three different 13-year-old girls, one of whom he impregnated; and pawned a computer stolen from Glenn Hills High School during a break-in.

In the child molestation cases, Judge Carlisle Overstreet gave the then-19-year-old probation in September 2000 after prosecutors allowed him to plead to reduced charges of statutory rape. He received the probation sentence despite committing one of the offenses while free on bond pending charges on the other two.

Perdue had been out of prison nine months after finishing a 51/2-year stint for the Glenn Hills caper when he killed his girlfriend's baby, Kyliah Mack, on March 24, 2008.

Perdue was living with Lekeisha Goodwin and had agreed to watch her nearly 2-month-old baby. Three hours after Goodwin left their home, Kyliah was pronounced dead in the emergency room of Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center.

A pathologist determined that the baby's injuries were caused from violent shaking.

Perdue, 28, is now serving a life sentence in prison.

Comments (14) Add comment
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corgimom 06/14/10 - 10:31 am
AC, you aren't telling us

AC, you aren't telling us anything we didn't already know.

We get the idea that there are career criminals, and violent people- why don't the judges and attorneys understand that too?

We understand that in Augusta, the emphasis is on things such as the Golf Hall of Fame and baseball stadiums, rather than keeping the citizens safe.

I have never understood why the leaders of Augusta DON"T GET IT that without good schools and low crime, nobody in their right mind will live or locate a business in Augusta. They leave- and leave the criminals behind, ensuring further decay.

I left, and so did thousands of others.

Make Augusta safe again, and people will come back. Until then- forget it. Augusta will be the Newark, NJ of the South.

corgimom 06/14/10 - 10:37 am
You know what I would like to

You know what I would like to see? A comprehensive program in our schools that TRULY addresses these issues instead of pussyfooting around them "because we might offend people".

Tell these kids, straight from K on- "Don't get involved with bad people. Don't get involved in relationships of any kind with bad people. They will hurt you in every way imaginable. It will ruin your life.

Pick your friends and boy/girlfriends wisely. Stay away from convicts. Stay away from people that you can clearly see are antisocial. Nobody is worth dying for. Nothing is worth going to prison for. You are better than that. If you have kids, never take up with a criminal. Nothing good will come of it. "

And lastly, GET THOSE ABNORMAL KIDS OUT OF THE CLASSROOMS. Every teacher knows who they are. THAT is where it really starts. Our children are exposed to these people at very early ages- so that they can think antisocial behavior is normal. It is not.

teapot 06/14/10 - 11:55 am
There are many Good people

There are many Good people living in Richmond County/Augusta, Ga. Many of them live in fear, caused by the actions of these career criminals.
SET AN EXAMPLE JUDGE!. 15 or 50, if they willingly kill someone, sentence them to death. THEN carry out the sentence. If I saw that John Doe killed someone in a robbery, was caught, convicted and executed, then I would think twice before trying what he did. This solution would leave room in prison for the "non-violent" criminals. It sounds harsh, yes. In some countries, you pick a man's pockets and get caught, they cut off your hand(s). It's harsh, but it keeps the criminal from doing it again, and makes others stop and think!

AutumnLeaves 06/14/10 - 12:17 pm
ALL the law-abiding citizens

ALL the law-abiding citizens that have the audacity to notice what is going on in Richmond County are living in fear or denial. Too many people ignore what is going on because of a real fear of retaliation. Unfortunately, if you ignore it, it doesn't go away, it gets worse, because the cowardly criminals and bullies are emboldened. They will lie with no conscience to get what they want.

Nightwing 06/14/10 - 12:20 pm
Teapot you are absolutely

Teapot you are absolutely correct. I could not have said it better. If the offender is 15 or 16 and this is his second missstep with the law he is already lost on society.

reader54 06/14/10 - 12:36 pm
We need an alternative to

We need an alternative to prison for all of the non-violent crimes in order to free up the space for the ones that are violent. We can't lock everybody up so lets focus on the dangerous ones. "Throw the book" at the criminals that are a threat to our property and our safety.

gadawg1968 06/14/10 - 03:20 pm
What we need is to start

What we need is to start punishing the criminals. What reason do these people have for commiting a crime? Nothing!!! Hang a few murderers or fry them and let their 'homies' see them hung or fry and it will stop. Or at least slow it down. Then stop trying to not hurt each others feelings by telling these punks, hurt someone and your done...Works for my son. The reason he dosent do more then he does is because he is afraid of what I will do to him. He dosent bully, smoke and he dosent tell me what time hes coming home, I tell him!!! But too many parents are afraid of their own kids. It's just crazy...

hisfaith2003 06/14/10 - 04:43 pm
Well Mr. Chance. you was

Well Mr. Chance. you was lucky, the man who killed my son in 2007 got 10 yrs in and 10yrs out on probation. and had a case pending, in a Gas station shooting and had more drive by shooting and appartment shootings, gun hold ups, then you can count. Now tell me public how soon before you think he was going to kill somebody. doing a shoot em up in a club.

Junket831 06/14/10 - 07:20 pm
Overstreet is clearly

Overstreet is clearly incompetent or just doesn't care. Sentencing is actually quite easy. For a first time offence it might be somewhat difficult to levy, but once you have 2 or more offences, just give them the maximum allowed. After all, a maximum sentence at best works out to about half the time or less for most offenders.

corgimom 06/14/10 - 07:44 pm
When a 26 year old man

When a 26 year old man doesn't have a car, that's a red flag to me. Working at a recycling center would be the second red flag.

It's so sad that he was murdered by someone he knew and trusted.

"District Attorney Ashley Wright said criminal behavior becomes "easier to do the second time around. Normal, law-abiding citizens can't understand why common criminals are given so many chances."

We fully understand that criminals find it easier to commit crimes after they have committed the first one. If we can understand that, why can't the judicial system?

How many times does someone need to be arrested in Augusta before the light dawns that they are a career criminal? If 16 times doesn't provide a clue, when does it become apparent?

freespeach 11/20/10 - 04:40 pm
How can you

How can you

TakeAstand 06/15/10 - 12:07 am
Yeah, I don't blame the joke

Yeah, I don't blame the joke of a justice system we have, I blame the bleeding hearts in the justice system and the whining citizens who wont allow these wastes of flesh to be punished appropriately!!!!! I wonder how many bleeding hearts would still feel the same way if it was their loved one these losers ended up killing after getting slaps on the wrist. They care more about these loser criminals and their choice to be losers than innocent citizens. Sickening. That's why I do not associate with a bleeding hearts, they lack common sense.

TakeAstand 06/15/10 - 12:10 am
You are exactly right gadawg.

You are exactly right gadawg. The reward for criminals are well worth the consequences because the consequences are a joke!!!!

lifelongresidient 06/15/10 - 04:22 pm
since the useless and inept

since the useless and inept commissioners really don't want to, or know how to attract any heavy industry in the area (i. e. hyundai or kia auto plants) why not put all that industrial park land to good use and build a very, very large maximum security penitentary..say maybe a 10-15,000 bed facility designed for long-term imprisonment then inact a 2-3 strikes law and start locking them up and throwing away the least the prison will create some having an industrial park with no industry

flipa 06/19/10 - 09:10 pm
All of you woud be SHOCKED to

All of you woud be SHOCKED to know how many crimes are not investigated at all in RC or the ball is dropped half way through. This is why the DA is forced into cutting these deals. They can't get the investigators to investigate. Either way sooner or later the perp walks & TAXPAYERS die.

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