Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Barney Fuller

Barney Fuller
Barney Fuller
Executed on 5 October 2016

Barney Ronald Fuller Jr., 58, was executed by lethal injection on 5 October 2016 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of two of his neighbors in a dispute.

Fuller lived near Lovelady in rural Houston County in east Texas. He enjoyed discharging firearms on his property, despite repeated complaints from his neighbors. Perhaps the most vocal of his neighbors, Nathan and Annette Copeland, had a dispute with him regarding his alleged shooting of their electric transformer. The Copelands called deputies several other times claiming Fuller was firing weapons, but no action was ever taken. The dispute escalated to the point when, on 1 January 2001, Fuller told Annette over the telephone, "Happy New Year, I'm going to kill you." He was subsequently charged with making a terroristic threat.

On Tuesday, 13 May 2003, Fuller, then 44, received a letter from the court regarding the charges against him. He became furious, sent his wife and children out of the house, and began drinking heavily. At about 1:30 a.m. the next morning, he traveled the short distance on foot to the Copeland home. He fired approximately 60 rounds from an AR-15 rifle into the home from the outside, changing the magazine on the rifle three times. He then broke down the back door and made his way to the master bedroom, where he fired multiple rounds with a pistol, reloading twice. He shot Nathan, 43, three times with the pistol from a distance of one to three feet. Nathan already had a fatal head wound from the rifle. Annette called 9-1-1 from the master bath. The operator heard a man say, "Party's over, bitch," before hearing a popping sound, then the line went dead. Annette was shot three times in the head and face with the pistol.

Fuller then went to the bedroom of the Copeland's fifteen-year-old son, Cody. He took aim and fired at Cody at least three times, while asking him why he lied about him in court. He then made his way to the bedroom of the Copeland's eleven-year-old daughter, Courtney, but she was hiding, and he could not find her in the dark. Before leaving the house, he turned on the kitchen stove.

Fuller was also armed with a shotgun, which he apparently did not use.

After Fuller was gone, Courtney went to check on Cody and her parents. She saw that her parents "would not make it." Cody survived with only two shoulder wounds. He attempted to call 9-1-1 on the house phone, but the line was dead. Courtney turned the stove off while Cody went to his parents' room to find her mobile phone. He called 9-1-1, then Courtney called her grandparents.

The grandparents arrived first and took the children out of the house. The police then arrived and began investigating the scene. While they were there, six gunshots were fired from the direction of Fuller's home. By the time deputies arrived, Fuller had set up a barricade. He held them at bay for several hours. He surrendered after a S.W.A.T. team arrived at his house.

Fuller pleaded guilty of the capital murder of two or more people in the same criminal transaction in July 2004. He asked for the court to hold his sentencing hearing without him present and declined to appear in the courtroom until the jury returned with his sentence. The jury sentenced him to death.

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