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James Fulmore

Other Philadelphia Exonerations
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At about midnight on June 29, 2008, 21-year-old Joshua Hernandez and David Reeves were walking to a corner store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, both staring at their mobile phones, when a man ran past Reeves and attempted to grab Hernandez.

Reeves turned and ran. When Hernandez raised a fist, the man said, “Don’t do it” and placed a gun to Hernandez’s hip. When the man tried to steer Hernandez to a nearby alley, Hernandez, fearing he was going to be shot, grabbed for the gun. The gun fell to the sidewalk, but before Hernandez could escape, he heard the sound of a gun cocking behind him. He turned and saw a man standing by the trunk of a car across the street raise a gun and fire several shots. One bullet struck Hernandez in the abdomen.

Hernandez fell to the ground and heard the man across the street call out to “Sean,” urging him to “Grab the gun. Shoot him!” The man who had struggled with Hernandez picked up the gun, aimed it at Hernandez’s face and pulled the trigger several times. The gun did not fire as it apparently had jammed. Both assailants then got into the car—which Hernandez said was a burgundy-colored Buick—and drove off.

Hernandez survived, likely because friends who were nearby heard the gunfire and ran to the scene. One of them was a nurse who applied pressure to Hernandez’s wound until emergency personnel arrived. Police recovered shell casings from two different handguns.

The crime remained unsolved until July 11, 2008, when a woman named Keisha Neal flagged down two police officers at about midnight in the same neighborhood where Hernandez had been shot. She pointed to a burgundy Buick and said that one of two men in the vehicle had approached her on foot, asked for change for a $20 bill, and then pointed a gun and her and demanded all of her money.

When the officers approached the car, it sped off. They pursued it and after a brief high-speed chase, curbed the vehicle. The driver was 21-year-old James Fulmore. His passenger was Desean Kingwood. When Keisha Neal was brought to the burgundy Buick, she identified Fulmore and Kingwood as the men who robbed her. No gun was found in the car. Police confiscated $81, which Fulmore had in his pocket.

A detective prepared two photographic lineups, one of which contained a picture of Kingwood and the other a picture of Fulmore. The detective showed them to Hernandez who was still hospitalized. The detective told Hernandez to close his eyes, think back upon the incident, look at the arrays, and “tell me which one of these photos comes to mind.” Hernandez would later testify that the detective gave him one array and told him to “pick them out,” and then left the room. When the detective returned, he repeated the process with the other array. After Hernandez picked Kingwood and Fulmore, the detective said, “Bingo. That’s both the guys.”

Fulmore and Kingwood were charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and robbery. In May 2009, they were both released on bond pending trial.

In October 2009, the trial court suppressed both Hernandez’s identifications from the photo arrays as being suggestive and his identifications of Kingwood and Fulmore at a preliminary hearing. The judge found that the preliminary hearing identifications were the product of the suggestive photo array identifications.

The prosecution appealed. In June 2011, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania reversed the trial court decision and said the prosecution would be allowed to present evidence of Hernandez’s identifications from the photo arrays and at the preliminary hearing at trial.

Kingwood and Fulmore went to trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in April 2013. By that time, Kingwood was back in jail after his bond was revoked when he was charged with murder in a separate, unrelated case. Fulmore was still free on bond.

Hernandez identified Kingwood and Fulmore as the men who attacked and shot him. Reeves also testified, although he was unable to identify either Kingwood or Fulmore.

The prosecution also played the recorded 911 call from Keisha Neal about her robbery by two men in a burgundy Buick. The defense objected to that evidence because Neal had failed to appear as a witness not only in this trial, but also in her case—resulting in the dismissal of the charges against Kingwood and Fulmore.

Fulmore presented time-stamped and fingerprint-authenticated time sheets showing that he was working as a U.S. Airways baggage handler at the Philadelphia International Airport from 4 p.m. on June 29—the day of the shooting—until 1 a.m. on June 30—an hour after the shooting occurred.

In addition, John Duke, an administrator for U.S. Airways, testified that employees verified their hours through a system that required them to enter their employee ID card and scan their fingerprint. Duke told the jury that if a fingerprint was not verified, it would be noted on the time sheet. Duke testified that the time sheets for Fulmore did not reflect any problems with the fingerprint verification.

Wayne Schmidt, a private investigator for the defense, testified that he drove from the airport to the scene of the shooting at 12:30 a.m., and that the 18-mile route took about 20 to 25 minutes.

In rebuttal, the prosecution—over defense objection—presented the testimony of Felix Rodriguez, a former airport employee who had been fired three months before the date of the shooting. Rodriguez said it was possible for someone to use another person’s ID card and an extremity other than a finger, which would generate a scan error. Rodriguez said that person could challenge that scan error and still get paid for that night.

On April 26, 2013, the jury convicted Kingwood and Fulmore of attempted murder, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and carrying a firearm without a license. Fulmore was additionally convicted of attempted escape for attempting to leave his jail cell on the day he was arrested and pushing one of the officers out of the way. Fulmore and Kingwood were each sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison.

In 2014, while the case was on appeal, Kingwood pled guilty to the unrelated murder charge and was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison.

Attorney Zachary Shaffer argued on appeal that the evidence relating to the robbery of Keisha Neal should not have been allowed at the trial. In August 2015, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania agreed and reversed the convictions of Kingwood and Fulmore for the Hernandez shooting and ordered a new trial. The court held that the trial judge should not have allowed the prosecution to play Keisha Neal’s 911 call because it was too prejudicial.

In June 2016, Kingwood pled guilty and was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison. That sentence was to be served after the 20 to 40 year prison term he was serving in the unrelated murder case.

Attorney W. Chris Montoya represented Fulmore at a second trial that began in October 2016. Hernandez again identified Fulmore as the man who shot him. Fulmore again presented his work records and the prosecution again called Rodriguez who asserted that the fingerprint system could be fooled. Montoya presented additional time sheet pages for Fulmore that had not been presented at the first trial. These pages, from a time period before the shooting, showed that whenever Fulmore’s fingerprint authentication failed, a manager’s signature—which meant a personal approval that Fulmore had been there—was the only way to override the failure to authenticate by fingerprint.

On November 4, 2016, the jury acquitted Fulmore of all charges related to the Hernandez shooting. The jury convicted Fulmore of simple assault relating to the escape attempt. He was sentenced to two years probation and released.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 4/13/2017
State:Pennsylvania
County:Philadelphia
Most Serious Crime:Attempted Murder
Additional Convictions:Assault, Attempt, Violent, Other Violent Felony, Gun Possession or Sale
Reported Crime Date:2008
Convicted:2013
Exonerated:2016
Sentence:15 to 30 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:21
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No