by Robert A. Waters
At 6 p.m., on February 26, 2013, Paul Howell is scheduled to die at Florida State Prison in Raiford for the pipe-bomb murder of state trooper Jimmy Fulford. As he drifts into an endless sleep, Howell’s death will certainly be less painful than that of the law officer.
Court documents describe the details leading up to the slaying:
“In January of 1992, [Paul Augustus] Howell constructed a bomb for the specific purpose of killing Tammie Bailey at her home in Marianna, Florida. Bailey, Howell, and Howell's brother, Patrick, were part of a drug ring involving a number of other individuals in which drugs were obtained in Fort Lauderdale and then sold in Marianna, Florida. Howell intended to eliminate Bailey as a witness because she had knowledge that could link Howell and his brother to a prior murder. The bomb was placed inside a microwave oven and then the oven was gift-wrapped. Howell paid Lester Watson to drive [to Marianna] and deliver the microwave to Bailey. Although he knew that Howell had often made pipe bombs, Watson testified that he thought the microwave contained drugs. Howell rented a car for Watson to use for the trip. Watson was accompanied on the trip by Curtis Williams.
“While traveling on I-10 toward Marianna, Watson was stopped by Trooper Jimmy Fulford for speeding. Fulford ran a registration check on the car and a license check on Watson, who gave the trooper a false name and birth date because he did not have a valid driver's license. The radio dispatcher contacted the car rental company and was informed that Howell had rented the car. The dispatcher [called] Howell at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to determine whether the rental car had been stolen from him. Howell told the dispatcher that he had loaned the car to Watson but did not know that Watson would be traveling so far with the vehicle. Howell was informed by the dispatcher that Watson was going to be taken to the Jefferson County Jail. Howell did not give any warning to the dispatcher regarding the bomb.
“Deputies Harrell and Blount of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department arrived at the scene and Watson gave them permission to search the vehicle. Trooper Fulford and the deputies observed the gift-wrapped microwave in the trunk of the car. Watson was arrested for speeding and driving without a valid driver's license and was transported, along with Williams, to the jail by Deputy Blount. Deputy Harrell also proceeded to the jail, leaving Trooper Fulford alone with the rental car. Shortly thereafter, a massive explosion took place at the scene. Testimony presented at Howell's trial by the State's explosives expert indicated that Trooper Fulford had been holding the microwave in his hands when the bomb went off. Trooper Fulford died instantly due to the massive trauma caused by the explosion.”
Fulford’s injuries were beyond belief. He suffered massive trauma to the head, chest, pelvis, arms, and legs. His right leg was missing, and his left leg was nearly severed. Several fingers had been blown away, and, according to the medical examiner, “the frames of his eyeglasses had been driven into the bones of his face and head by the force of the blast.”
In 1992, Howell was sentenced to death for the capital murder of Jimmy Fulford.
Married, with two children, Fulford spent 13 years as a state trooper. His twin brother, Timmy, told reporters that “we grew up on the farm, raising tobacco. Had some cattle, [too]. We worked hard, but we had some fun, too, hunting and fishing. And every Sunday we were dressed up in our black pants and white shirts and black bow ties, exactly the same. We’d walk the railroad tracks to church, picking dewberries along the way.”
Jimmy graduated from Florida State University with a degree in criminology, but at heart, he was a country boy. “We were really brought up in the church,” said Timmy. “That’s where we got our values. You didn’t cuss [because you’d] have your mouth washed out with soap. You helped people when they needed you. I think that was part of why Jimmy became a trooper. He lived to help people. I think Jimmy thought of it as a calling.”
Not everyone is in favor of executing the killer.
Mary Hamer, M.D., sent the following press release to Florida Governor Rick Scott:
Please Abolish the Death Penalty.
*Dedication: I Mary Hamer MD dedicate my Anti-Death Penalty essays (1-4) to Mr. Paul Howell who is scheduled to be Executed by Florida Governor Rick Scott & the Florida Taxpayers on February 26th, 2013 at 6 PM EST. While Mr. Howell will be lying on the Death gurney in Raiford, Florida having a lethal cocktail of a Barbiturate, a Paralytic & Potassium solution (5) injected into his veins -- Most Floridians are going to be leisurely eating their dinners & watching the evening news in their comfortable homes with their children & pets. Bon Appetite & Cheers Florida. For the record, I Mary Hamer Apologize to humanity for Florida’s revengeful, cruel & barbaric act committed against Paul Howell & all the other Death Row inmates awaiting execution or who have already been murdered in Florida. I Mary Hamer also officially withdraw my name from the Human race, because I will not participate in or condone this legalized, savage & expensive crime perpetrated by the Florida Governor, the Florida Judges, State Attorneys & Florida citizens. Two Wrongs do Not make a Right.
*PETITION to Forida Governor Scott: I hereby petition Florida Governor Scott to Please Stop your Execution order of Paul Howell. Please show the world you are an Enlightened person who is willing to show Mercy on people. Show the world you are a Leader in the New Smart on Crime ethic -- which Heals the community including the Victims & the Offenders -vs- the Hard/Tough/Macho on Crime ethic which divides & hardens the community. Show the world you have the courage to Abolish the Death Penalty -- as an irrational & expensive historical act.
Thank you. Respectfully, Mary Hamer, MD.
Florida, A Death Penalty State.