The Raving Theist

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Floating in the Wind

August 24, 2006 | 16 Comments

After I die? I always tell my pen pals that I’ll just be floating in the wind. Where I go I don’t know, but I’ll be floating somewhere.

So speculates Justin Fuller, scheduled to die in Texas today.

Fuller was just 18 at the time of the offense, a 1997 shooting murder which netted $300 from the victim’s ATM card. His three co-defendants were all older (19, 21 and 25), but all received sentences of life or less. Fuller’s heavier sentence was likely influenced by the accusation that he was the triggerman. He disputes it, but the courts ruled that it doesn’t matter whether he was or not. They also ruled that it doesn’t matter that his attorney failed to tell him about a plea bargain offer that might have spared him from death.

At this moment the Supreme Court is considering a last-minute reprieve based on theory that one of the appellate briefs filed on his behalf was filled with gibberish (example: “i &tilde hus, we diseeni no ab &tilde tse of discretion in th i &tilde coult &tilde s denial”). That probably won’t matter either, given that the confusion was remedied at a later hearing.

There’s no denying that Fuller, despite his youth, was involved in a terrible crime. Donald Whittington III was himself only 21 when killed by Fuller and his associates. The act caused immense pain, and victim’s relatives aren’t in a forgiving mood:


Donald’s parents plan to attend Fuller’s execution. “I’d do it myself if I could,” said Raquella Whittington, who balks at written requests from Fuller to talk to her and her husband, Donald Whittington II. Echoing his wife’s sentiments, Whittington said, “The only way I would talk to him is if he could bring my son back and he can’t.” The Whittingtons said they live their lives heavily sedated. Sleeping pills are the only way they get through the nights without hearing the words of their sons’ killers. “It’s hard,” Mrs. Whittington said, recalling the grueling trials where she heard the words her son heard as he took his last breaths. “You have to sit there and listen to everything they did to him, what they took, tying him up,” she recalled, in addition to testimony about her son’s last words: “Leave me alone, take anything you want. “People say time will heal,” Mrs. Whittington said. “He’s my only son. Time has not healed this.”

Hard to argue with that. But whatever Fuller was nine years ago, I doubt that today’s he’s the worst person in the world, or the most deserving (if anyone is) of execution. This women thinks he’s a smart, generous and beautiful young man.

Those who revel in vengeance will not be disappointed by tonight’s proceeding. Fuller’s parents will watch their 27 year-old son die, as will his brother. Fuller daughter, age 11, is too young under state law to watch, but no doubt she’ll cry when they give her the news. So in addition to confronting the victim’s parents for the first time, Fuller will be contemplating his own family’s suffering as he’s strapped down.

What will he say? Judging by his poems, it’ll be a message of either hope . . .

A faith that is vibrant, impassioned and alive
will most definitely work itself out.
A faith that is eager to roll up its sleeves
will find that there’s no room for doubt.
To know our work is not in vain
as partners of the Lord,
provides the patience that we need
to wait for God’s reward.
our physical eyes do not always see
the work God is doing today.
But, hope in God’s word will surely bear fruit
though, often there is a delay.
Faith does not rule out common sense
in facing life each day.
But takes it by the hand and says,
“We’ll trust, we’ll plan, and we’ll pray!!”

. . . or self-pitying bitterness:

I stood there and watched
as I was arraigned for a crime I didn’t commit.
I stood there and watched
as my attorneys played over my life.
I stood there and watched
11 whites and 1 Uncle Tom convict and sentence me to die.
I stood there and watched
as my momma cried, “Baby, God’s gonna bring you home!!”
I stood there and watched
as all my hopes, dreams, and aspirations went down the drain.
I stood there and watched
as I was sitting on Death Row, lost, confused, not knowing what’s next.
I stood there and watched
as the state of Texas reached record numbers in murders.
I stood there and watched
as newly acquired friends went fighting to their deaths.
I stood there and watched
as I seen my appeals moving along rapidly.
I stood there and watched
as my survival instincts and inner desire to live
pushed me to fight;
pushed me to overcome the massive obstacles.
I stood there and watched
as a radiant light shined so bright;
yet the future looked so dark.
Even though I don’t know what happens next;
I will stand there and watch,
as life continues to unfold and
God guides me through.
As I stand here and watch . . .

What do you think Fuller will say tonight? If you were writing his last words for him, what would you say?

Comments

16 Responses to “Floating in the Wind”

  1. benjamin
    August 24th, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

    “I feel so guilty about the crime with which I was involved that I look forward to my death. I look forward to a time when I will not exist to lament my actions. If there was a just God he surely would have exchanged my life for that of my victim at the time of his death. Few people commit acts so heinous that they are sentenced to death and so the public’s interest may be piqued. I am grateful for whatever audience I have for these, my last words: Choose your actions wisely and respect one another.”

  2. Gathercole
    August 24th, 2006 @ 4:40 pm

    “To the family of my victim, I am truly sorry. I wish with all my heart that I could bring Donald back, but I can’t. Even my death will not balance the books, because I took Donald from you when he was innocent of any crime, and all I can offer you in return is this murderous, guilty body and soul. Please tell my daughter I am not the kind of man who would let a debt this important go unpaid. Many men go to their end with less warning and diginity than I am allowed. Tell her I died willingly and with honor.”

  3. Drusilla
    August 24th, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

    As I stand here and watch . . .

    I hope I would say, “Lord, have mercy on me for I have sinned and I need your forgiveness and please heal those whom I have so horribly injured.”

    Fuller is troubling, not because he is a special case but because he cannot even begin to take in the enormity of his actions. From his perspective, he “stand[s] there and watch[es]” and fails to see that he is actually participating.

    Perhaps Fuller didn’t realize that things had already gone terribly wrong when Whittington III was bound in the back of the car and he and his friends were stealing money from their victim’s account. Perhaps he doesn’t realize that in voicing his biggest regret, “because someone’s life was taken. And that’s not the individual that I’ve even been associated with,” he not only dissociates himself from the murder, he dissociates himself from himself. And perhaps his expectation of death, to be “floating somewhere,” is simply the best he can do at the age of 27, but it is quite easily just an eternity of standing there and watching.

    For many reasons the death penalty is wrong but for now, it still seems likely that Fuller will die today. But will he be a participant or will he “stand there and watch”? Participation means he can be truly sorry. It won’t undo his crime neither will it undo the crime the state of Texas is about to commit against him, but it will undo something in him that has been willing to go along. Participation means he can be angry like M. Mersault in Camus’, L’Estranger or repentant like the thief who asks Jesus to remember him. Participation means Fuller can hope for oblivion or heaven. Participation means Fuller can choose for perhaps the first time in his life, a life from which he has been absent much of the time.

    I hope Fuller can reach for more than “floating somewhere” not because he deserves it, but because he desperately needs it.

  4. The Unbrainwashed
    August 24th, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

    I’d say, “Who gves a shit? Please become The Raving Atheist you once were.”

  5. Oz
    August 24th, 2006 @ 6:51 pm

    “I stood there and watched
    11 whites and 1 Uncle Tom convict and sentence me to die.”

    What a load of racist trash. As if white people are the enemy, and black people should always back each other up. He’s an enemy of society, and society elected to put him down. Racial alliances had nothing to do with it.

  6. Godthorn
    August 24th, 2006 @ 8:29 pm

    From what I can judge of his character, I think I would not consent to speak for him. From what else I can glean from the story, it seems that the two people most in need of counseling are the parents of the original victim. Since they did not witness the crime, they are not required by law to testify. Why did they insist on attending all the court proceedings? And they say they can sleep and face life only with sedatives and tranquilizers.

    Pain and grief are understandable following the death of a loved one. But the thinking human understands that the past does not exist. Whatever the victim suffered is no longer being suffered by him, and it need not continue to be suffered by his survivors. Initial grief is unavoidable; extended grief is absurd. One cannot suffer on behalf of a person who no longer exists; one can suffer only for oneself. Such extended grief is self-pity, often laden with an admixture of guilt. It is pointless and self-punishing. People who cannot overcome it are to be pitied less for their loss than for their stupidity.

    Grief should fade as quickly as the flowers on the grave. The dead cannot be revived. The living can choose to revitalize themselves or to persist in a self-created hell. -Thorngod.

  7. Professor Chaos
    August 24th, 2006 @ 9:54 pm

    I’m reading this in my underwear while drinking beer and eating Totino’s Pizza Rolls. I just thought you all should know this.

  8. Viole
    August 24th, 2006 @ 10:13 pm

    ‘Go fuck yourself, you revenge-obsessed, hate-filled, sanctimonious hypocrites.’

  9. "Q" the Enchanter
    August 24th, 2006 @ 10:59 pm

    “These may be my last words, but you will never know my last thoughts.”

  10. "Q" the Enchanter
    August 24th, 2006 @ 10:59 pm

    “These may be my last words, but you will never know my last thoughts.”

  11. "Q" the Enchanter
    August 24th, 2006 @ 10:59 pm

    “These may be my last words, but you will never know my last thoughts.”

  12. HappyNat
    August 25th, 2006 @ 8:43 am

    Prof Chaos, you gave me a great idea for my last meal on death row. The pizza rolls, not your underwear.

  13. Doug Purdie
    August 25th, 2006 @ 11:43 am

    Boo Hoo.

  14. JP
    August 25th, 2006 @ 4:15 pm

    How much of this bullshit are you going to drone on about? Who gives a shit about these criminals?

    It’s not vengance you asshat. Letting the victims family gouge out his eyeballs while beating him with a rubber hose might be vengance. Killing this piece of shit is just taking out the trash.

    Pass the popcorn.

  15. JP
    August 25th, 2006 @ 4:16 pm

    Ummm, pizza rolls…

  16. Pissed off Joe
    August 27th, 2006 @ 10:16 am

    Is this site still called The Raving Atheist? You could’ve fooled me! C’mon dude, get back to what you used to do. Fuck these criminals.

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