Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

James Fulton Foster


On the night of June 19, 1956, Charles Drake, a 66-year-old merchant in Jefferson, Georgia, was shot and killed during the robbery of his home. Drake was a well-known and respected man in town, and he was rumored to always carry $5,000 in cash with him. The robber failed to find this money though, for the $5,000 was still in Drake’s pocket when police found his body. Drake’s wife was also home at the time of the robbery and was injured by the perpetrator.
 
James Fulton Foster was working in Jefferson as house painter in the summer of 1956. Until just prior to the time of the crime, Foster had been living in Greer, South Carolina, with his wife and children. Foster, who had a past conviction as an accessory in an armed robbery, was quickly identified as a suspect. A week after the shooting, Foster was taken by police to the Drake home and presented to Mrs. Drake, who identified him as the killer.
 
Attorneys James Horace Wood and Floyd Hoard were appointed to represent Foster. Mrs. Drake’s eyewitness identification was backed up by testimony from Foster’s jail cellmate, J.C. Dameron, who claimed Foster had confessed to him that he had killed Charles Drake. Foster had an alibi, but it was not very solid. Despite Wood’s and Hoard’s efforts, the jury found Foster guilty of Drake’s murder, and he was sentenced to death.
 
After it was announced that Foster would be executed, a local group began raising funds for his appeal. Although two execution dates had been set, Foster had not yet been executed in October of 1957 when a South Carolina prisoner reported that his cellmate, Charles (“Rocky”) Rothschild, a 34-year-old former Cairo, Illinois, policeman, had confessed to killing Charles Drake. On July 4, 1958, Rothschild signed a confession admitting he had killed Drake and implicated bootlegger A.D. Allen as his accomplice.
 
In light of this new evidence, Foster was granted a new trial on July 19, 1958. Shortly thereafter, Drake and A.D. Allen were indicted. Jefferson County wanted to drop the charges against Foster, but his attorney insisted on a retrial for their assurance of finality. Foster was retried and acquitted on September 12, 1958. Both Rothschild and Allen were convicted of Drake’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.
 
In 1960, a bill was proposed to provide Foster with compensation for his time in prison, but the Georgia Legislature did not pass it, and Foster received no compensation for his wrongful conviction.
 
- Meghan Barrett Cousino
State:GA
County:Jackson
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Reported Crime Date:1956
Convicted:1956
Exonerated:1958
Sentence:Death
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:38
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Perjury or False Accusation