Florida

Convicted murderer asks jurors for the death penalty; they give him life in prison

Scott Nelson, 55, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Winter Park caregiver Jennifer Fulford, 56. His past experiences in prison led him to answer “yes” when asked if he wanted to be sentenced to death.
Scott Nelson, 55, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Winter Park caregiver Jennifer Fulford, 56. His past experiences in prison led him to answer “yes” when asked if he wanted to be sentenced to death.

“I am a homicidal maniac,” Scott Nelson told prosecutors in court on Monday.

Nelson, 55, was convicted on June 29 of murdering Winter Park caregiver Jennifer Fulford, 56, in September 2017. He was also found guilty of kidnapping, carjacking and robbery.

On Thursday, Nelson was sentenced to life in prison, according to Orlando media reports. Prosecutors had asked for the death penalty.

All but one juror wanted to give him the death penalty, three jurors told Click Orlando. The dissenting juror led the jury to sentence him to life in prison.

“He loved the attention,” one of the three jurors told clickorlando.com.

Nelson was incarcerated for two robberies in 1994 and 2010, the Orlando Sentinel reported, and released in 2017, at which point he was homeless.

In his June 29 testimony, he admitted to the 2017 murder. In a video posted by Click Orlando, he blamed his actions entirely on his parole officer, Julio Dominguez.

He said Dominguez got him fired from his job, which is why Nelson said he was “thrown on the streets.” He said he considered killing Dominguez for “a moment,” but redirected his attention to the people of Winter Park for reasons he did not specify.

According to WESH-TV, Nelson took the stand during his Monday sentencing hearing to describe his experience in prison.

“I’ve been treated like an animal for 25 years,” he said. “I’ve been brutalized. There’s nothing you can dream up that hasn’t been done to me in federal custody.”

Nelson testified that he was beaten unconscious and raped by another cellmate in prison, causing him to contract Hepatitis C, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Other inmates would often set off alarm sprinkler systems, flooding the housing he was kept in with water, fire retardant and feces, he said.

He was locked in small cells, sometimes with two other inmates, and kept in prison without fans or air conditioning in 100-degree weather. On one Christmas morning, he said, an officer dressed as Santa Claus tied his ankles and wrists to a bed.

The defense called psychologist Dr. Valerie McClain, who testified that Nelson was physically abused by his older brothers growing up and went through life-threatening events when he was young. These traumatic events, she said, impacted his “ability to regulate his behavior.” The three jurors who spoke to Click Orlando said they never believed he was mentally ill.

When Assistant State Attorney Kenneth Nunnelley asked Nelson if he wanted to be executed, Nelson replied “yes” without hesitation. Nelson’s attorneys quickly objected. The judge granted the objection, and jurors were told to disregard Nelson’s statement.

“He said those things to be shocking,” one of the three jurors told Click Orlando. “He said those things, I feel, to call our bluff.”

A Miami Herald I-Team investigation into corruption, sexual abuse and medical neglect at the largest women's prison in the nation, Lowell Correctional. Reporting by Julie K. Brown / jbrown@miamiherald.com.



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