COLUMBIA — A man on federal death row for kidnapping and murdering a South Carolina woman was brutally beaten by deputies while he was being held in jail, the man's attorneys said in court Wednesday.
Chadrick Fulks and co-defendant Brandon Basham are facing the death penalty for killing Alice Donovan during a two-week, 2,300-mile crime spree after escaping from a Kentucky jail in 2002.
Fulks was beaten so severely in 2003 in the Lexington County jail that his tailbone cracked, his attorney, Chris Mills, told federal jurors during his opening statement in a lawsuit filed in 2006 against Sheriff James Metts.
Fulks said deputies beat him while he was awaiting transfer to the Richland County jail, after he tried to take back photographs confiscated when he was booked.
Fulks said he was punched, kicked and clawed by the deputies, who took the photos from him. Fulks was eventually strapped into a restraint chair with a hood over his head while waiting on federal marshals to take him to the other jail, his attorney said.
Mills urged jurors to consider Fulks as they would anyone else bringing a lawsuit and not think about his kidnapping and murder convictions.
"Chad Fulks doesn't have much left. He doesn't have his liberty. He may not have his life," Mills said. "Chad Fulks brought this suit to set the record straight ... and to have the law apply equally to everyone."
Fulks has also accused the Lexington County jail of holding him under inhumane conditions that he said caused him to develop a bacterial infection after being there for more than three months.
An investigator who met with Fulks several times in the Lexington jail said officers let her see his isolation cell after Fulks complained to her about it being cold and wet.
Drucy Glass said she wasn't sure whether to believe Fulks, but changed her mind once she saw water pooled on the floor and trickling down cinderblock walls, and saw mold growing on a wall near a window.
"He was a bit whiny at times," Glass told. "He had numerous complaints. ... I didn't know whether to believe him or not."
Glass also testified that she met with Fulks the day after the alleged attack and saw cuts under his nose and red marks on his neck and face.
"I vividly recall him telling me that he was down on the ground on all fours and somebody kicked him from behind," she said.
Mills also read from depositions taken from the four accused deputies, each of whom gave their accounts of the incident. In her deposition, jail officer Paula Lybrand, who is now retired from the sheriff's department, told attorneys Fulks taunted deputies once he had the photos.
"The only way that you're going to get them is you're going to have to fight me," said Lybrand, quoting Fulks. "I'm just looking for a reason to sue Lexington County Detention Center, and I'm not going to give you anything."
An attorney representing Metts and three of the four accused deputies said the officers were trying to keep Fulks, who had become extremely agitated over the pictures, from hurting himself or them.
"The officers have to maintain order," William Davidson said. "The officers in this case acted reasonably and appropriately in restraining Mr. Fulks."
Davidson also told jurors there is no evidence to support the squalid conditions Fulks has alleged, including feces on the cell floor and mold growing on the walls.
Mills said Fulks, who is participating in the proceedings via video teleconference from federal death row in Terre Haute, Ind., would testify this morning.