Fatal crash resentencing trial day 5: Both sides rest in Fulton resentencing trial
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - 4:40 p.m. update - The defense recalls Marshall back to the stand. Marshall says he “absolutely believes” Fulton would be successful if given probation. He said Fulton would be at very low risk for recidivism.
The prosecution questions Marshall and asks if he has any experience with the probation standards and practices in Texas or Smith County. He said he does not. The prosecution asks Marshall if he believes his personal relationship with Fulton has affected his judgment regarding Fulton’s likelihood for recidivism. He said it does not.
Marshall is dismissed and both sides rest. The jury will begin deliberation on a sentence Tuesday morning.
4:15 p.m. update - Audrey Fulton is on the stand. She insists that she was not on the phone with her husband James when he crashed into Beasley.
She said she would never compare her suffering with that of the Beasley family. She said that there is no amount of money that could bring back Hailey Beasley.
Audrey is dismissed.
3:15 p.m: Audrey Fulton said her husband is very kind and gentle. She said the children think he’s a teddy bear. He has a big heart, a marshmallow center behind a tough exterior, she said.
She said Fulton texted her that he was in an accident. She said she recalls that he said not to bother or text him. She said she can badger him. She said she learned that Beasley was killed when her father told her after they went to the crash scene.
She said he treats his employees like they’re a family and has barbecues and gives them Christmas gifts.
She said watching Fulton being taken away to prison in front of their family after the original trial was one of the worst experiences of her life.
She said Fulton cried a lot when he came home from prison and somber every year on Beasley’s birthday.
The state then questioned Fulton’s wife. She said Fulton is only known to drink socially. She said Fulton had several times before had two large beers and then driven after.
“That night it was” a bad decision, she said.
Audrey Fulton is evasive when asked if she thinks it was dangerous for her husband to do what he did.
“It turned out to be a deadly decision,” she said.
She said she does not believe he had a fair trial.
2:45 p.m. update - The defense calls Fulton’s wife, Audrey Fulton, to the stand. She said the family moved to Tyler in 1999. They then moved to San Antonio in 2013. She testified about her husband’s work ethic and said she believed she got a text from him about the wreck. She said she found out about Beasley’s death while her father was at the scene.
2:00 p.m. update - The defense calls Charles Grasty, a chaplain with Texas Department of Criminal Justice to the stand. Grasty met Fulton when Fulton was in the Gurney Unit. He said Fulton put in a request to be in a faith based dorm. Grasty then put him working with evangelistic services. He said he chose Fulton to be a mentor to other inmates.
The prosecution then questions Grasty, who said Fulton told him about the incident and that he has to live with it every day. Grasty agrees that Fulton will eventually get to go home to his family and that Beasley’s family will not get that. Grasty is then dismissed.
1:30 p.m. update - The prosecution asks Burns if he knew that Fulton said today the incident was “more than just an accident.” Burns said he does not know any of Fulton’s testimony today. When asked, Burns states that Fulton admitted he had been drinking and driving that night and that resulted in a head-on collision after Fulton crossed the center line. Burns said he didn’t know more beyond that. Burns was then dismissed.
1:20 p.m. update - The defense calls Daniel Burns to testify. Burns and his wife met Fulton as they were doing prison ministry at the Gurney Unit and Fulton participated by helping to set up and break down for each service. Burns said Fulton told him about what happened, how he was responsible for killing Beasley, but did not talk about the incident often. Burns said that after a certain conversation, he believed Fulton was showing remorse. He said Fulton told him that other people think he’s a monster and does not show remorse, but he’s the one who has to live with what happened.
Burns said he remembers Fulton as being encouraging and upbeat, helpful to other men. Burns described Fulton as “different than many of the men.”
1:10 p.m. update - A community supervisor officer with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office is called by the defense to testify. They provide an explanation of how probation works and how an ankle monitor would work if the jury decides to give Fulton probation. This officer has supervised Fulton for a year and said Fulton has never missed a check-in and had no positive drug tests in his file and no violations from scram device showing that Fulton has gone out of the area or had alcohol.
12:00 p.m. update - The defense calls Steven Marshall, a retired criminal rehabilitation specialist originally from California, to testify. He stated that Fulton would be a “minimal risk” to reoffend if Fulton were in his caseload.
The state asks Marshall if he’s worked for the State of Texas or Smith County. Marshall states he has not and is not familiar with rules for offenders in Texas or the state’s parole procedures. Marshall states he has not reviewed any of Fulton’s records.
11:30 a.m. update - Fulton’s father-in-law, James Daniel, is called by the defense. Daniel is asked about the night of the incident and said he learned about it via a text from his daughter, Fulton’s wife. Daniel said that when he spoke with Fulton he seemed very shaken up. He said Fulton claims he was distracted by a deer but does not recall Fulton talking about drinking and did not recall smelling alcohol on Fulton at the time. Daniel said that he was the one who mentioned Fulton should retrieve his golf clubs from the truck. Daniel said he’s never known Fulton to lie to him.
The state questioned Daniel and asked “Would you yourself drink 40 ounces of beer in an hour and drive down Broadway and Grande?” Daniel answers “No.” Daniel said that before today, Fulton had not told him that he had been found guilty of criminally negligent homicide.
The defense asked Daniel if Fulton told him he was responsible for Beasley’s death, he answers “Yes.”
10:48 a.m. update - Questioned again by the defense, Fulton said he would not able to definitively point out where he saw the deer on the side of the road, only the “general vicinity.”
The state then asks Fulton to acknowledge that, according to bodycam footage, he does not mention a deer in his explanations until about the fifth round of questioning. Fulton said that he “wasn’t fully there.”
“I don’t remember some of the things that happened that night,” Fulton said.
10:41 a.m. update - Fulton said he stayed focused on looking at the deer for “a few seconds” but said it wasn’t a case of tunnel vision. He said he does not remember seeing a third car but doesn’t dispute testimony that states there was a third car. He also agrees that he was not in the best position to evaluate his ability to take a field sobriety test.
Fulton said he agrees that Beasley’s family deserves justice and that he believes the jury made the right decision in convicting him. He admits the fault is his that he was not home to be with his children while he served 20 months in prison.
10:24 a.m. update - Fulton said that he’s not aware of any witness stating that he was intoxicated and also states that he did not feel intoxicated or impaired the night of the crash. However, he said that after listening to the testimony of experts, he admits that “to a degree” he was impaired.
The state asks Fulton if he was on his phone with his wife at the time of the incident. Fulton said he was not, but the prosecution states that phone records show he called his wife at 9:31 p.m. and hung up at 9:34 p.m. with a 911 call regarding the accident going in at 9:37 p.m. The prosecution states that whoever called 911 would have had to first park and look at the crash before calling in to report the incident. Fulton maintains that he was not on the phone.
Fulton agreed that he failed to follow warning signs on the road and slow his speed.
The prosecution asks Fulton if, in instances prior to the night of the crash, he had left On the Border feeling like he had drank too much but drove anyway. Fulton admitted he had done it on “two or three” other occasions “because it was stupid.” He agrees that driving while intoxicated is selfish.
Following the crash, Fulton said he let his wife know what happened but “didn’t want anything on his phone” or for his wife to blow up his phone with concerns and questions.
Fulton had previously claimed that the crash was the result of him being distracted by a deer on the side of the road. However, when questioned by the prosecution, Fulton said that he doesn’t know exactly where the deer was at, that it “could have been in front of a bush.”
10:05 a.m. update - Fulton is now being questioned by the prosecution. Fulton agrees that he’s guilty of the charges and that his truck that night was used as a deadly weapon. The state asks why he changed his plans after leaving On the Border that night. Fulton had told friends he was going to stay the night with his in-laws, but instead apparently decided to drive home to San Antonio. Fulton said he changed his mind after talking to his wife around 9:20 p.m. He said his wife always wants him home.
9:55 a.m. update - Fulton said he spent 20 months in prison, which affected the lives of and his relationship with his children. He said he missed spending time with his youngest and second sons. He said his third son began making bad decisions due to his absence. He also said his daughter, who was 16 when he went to prison, had a difficult time as well.
Fulton said it was difficult for him to hear the testimony of Haile Beasley’s mother and he made his first public apology to Beasley’s family.
“I can’t imagine your pain at all,” he said. “I’m sorry. I wish it were me. I took your everything.”
James Arthur Fulton took the witness stand Monday as his resentencing phase continued.
Fulton, 46, was convicted of criminally negligent homicide on Dec. 1, 2017, in the death of Haile Beasley in May 2016. The jury sentenced him to 10 years in prison but a criminal appeals court ordered a new sentencing trial after ruling Fulton had ineffective counsel.
Fulton spoke about taking the field sobriety test following the crash and said that he “sobbed” when he was finally able to process what happened.
While being questioned by his lawyer, Fulton said that he understood the crash involved a fatality. Following the incident, Fulton said his in-laws took him home from the scene but left for San Antonio the next day. He said that he has not had contact with the Beasley family under the advisement of the case’s lead detective.
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