Fulk pleads to lesser felony

A Fayette County murder-for-hire case ended on Tuesday with the Farina man being charged with that offense being found guilty of a lesser felony charge.
Mark G. Fulk, 36, was fined and placed on probation after being convicted of a charge of disorderly conduct in a stipulated bench trial, and was released from custody later in the afternoon.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Fayette County State’s Attorney Joshua Morrison and his assistant, Amanda Ade Harlow, announced that they were dismissing the solicitation for murder charge filed against Fulk on April 4 of last year.
After the hearing, Morrison and Ade Harlow explained that that charge, which alleged that Fulk had arranged to have his wife murdered, was being dismissed because a key witness had changed his story.
The solicitvation for murder charge filed by Morrison’s office on April 5 of last year alleged that Fulk had approached John Shelton, offering to pay him cash, a motorcycle, auto shop and house as pay for killing his wife, Alecia Fulk.
Later, Shelton reportedly told Fulk that he had committed the murder, and Fulk reportedly called the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office to report his wife missing.
After Tuesday’s hearing, Morrison said that after Ade Harlow notified Shelton that she would continue to prosecute him on a charge of financial institution fraud, Shelton contacted Fulk’s attorney, Lou Viverito of Effingham.
Shelton, Morrison said, told Viverito that he wished to make a statement.
“His statement was, essentially, that he made it all up,” Morrison said, referring to Shelton’s April 2013 statement that resulted in Fulk being arrested.
“He didn’t use those exact words, but when asked about every facet and every element of the crime, he said that that wasn’t how it happened, that’s not what I said,” Morrison said.
“He (Shelton) was mad at me because I insist on continuing to prosecute him for the crimes that we believe he committed,” Ade Harlow said about the Monday developments in the Fulk case.
“It’s not the resolution that we wanted (in the Fulk case),” Ade Harlow said, with Morrison adding, “Obviously.”
“But,” Ade Harlow said, “we have an obligation in this job, and we want to make it absolutely clear that people can come to us, defense attorneys can come to us with that information, information like that, and we will listen and we will take that into consideration.
“And, hopefully, in the end, we make a good decision, a just decision,” she said.
“And I think that this is the best decision we could make (in the Fulk case) for Alecia Fulk and for her family,” Ade Harlow said.
“Given the nature of what has recently happened with our material witness … we have to take into consideration Alecia Fulk’s position, and trying to protect her.”
Morrison said that with Shelton changing his story, “We don’t believe that we can prove (guilt) beyond a reasonable doubt, and we have an ethical duty to abide by that.”
Morrison said that Fulk being found guilty of felony disorderly conduct “gives some protection to her (Alecia Fulk) and the kids and her family … and that’s the whole idea.”
Asked whether they would consider filing charges against Shelton, Morrison and Ade Harlow declined to comment.
Tuesday’s hearing – held after a conference involving Judge Marc Kelly, prosecutors and Viverito – began with Kelly telling Fulk that Morrison’s office had filed information on a new charge earlier in the day.
Reading the information to Fulk, Kelly told him that he was being charged with disorderly conduct, a Class 4 felony punishable by up to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
The new charge alleges that Fulk dialed 911 “for the purpose of making a false complaint … stating that Alecia Fulk was missing, when, at the time the call was made, the defendant knew there were no reasonable grounds for making the call, and further knew that the call could result in the emergency response of a public safety.”
After Kelly read the new and Fulk waived his right to a preliminary hearing, Kelly initiated the bench trial, with Ade Harlow and Viverito saying they would present no witnesses or additional evidence.
Kelly advised Fulk that in agreeing to a stipulated bench trial, he was “not in any way confessing that these facts are sufficient for you to be found guilty.”
He told Fulk that he “is only stipulating that those are the facts to be presented (by the prosecution).”
Kelly found Fulk guilty of the new charge, and Ade Harlow and Viverito said they had agreed on a recommended sentence for the offense.
That sentence includes 30 months of probation, a $3,500 fine plus court costs, a $25 monthly probation fee and a $100 assessment to Fayette County Crime Watchers.
Fulk was sentenced to 360 days in jail with day-for-day good credit. As Fulk had served 383 days in day, he was given $1,915 pretrial incarceration credit.
He was ordered not to have any contact with Alecia Fulk or enter a South Oak Street residence in Farina.
Kelly further ordered Fulk to undergo a psychological evaluation, at his expense, and to complete any treatment recommended as a result of that evaluation.
The judge also told Fulk that he was being required to conduct a job search, and said that a review on his job search is set for June 27.
Kelly told Fulk, “I did find you guilty, you did not plead guilty,” advising him that he has the right to appeal the verdict and/or sentence.

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