Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Former beauty queen pleads guilty to soliciting kidnapping of "boyfriend," sentenced to 2 years in prison, 6 years probation

(Original Post 12-10-09)
A former beauty queen has plead guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping and aggravated assault Tuesday, December 8. Twenty-seven year old Kumari Fulbright's guilty plea was heard and accepted by Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard Nichols, who will formally sentence her to two years in prison for aggravated assault and seven years probation for kidnapping.

Fulbright and three other defendants, Larry Hammond, Robert Ergonis, and David Wayne Radde planned and carried out the attack, according to law enforcement. The motive for the attack, according to prosecutors, was Fulbright's anger at her jewelry being pawned off to settle a $16,000 drug debt.

Defense attorney Steve Weiss told Judge Richard Nichols that Fulbright conspired with others to restrain her former boyfriend in December 2007 and brandished a knife near his ear, threatening to cut it. Although she signed a plea agreement, Fulbright was reluctant to verbally acknowledge her actions and accept the terms in court, as required, saying she did not agree with her attorney's description of the crime.

Each time Nichols asked Fulbright if she committed a particular act, she refused to answer directly. Instead answering yes or no, Fulbright told the judge such things as "I agree I'm pleading guilty" or "I am guilty" or "The evidence shows that."

At one point, Fulbright also snapped that she reads, writes and understands English and she signed the plea agreement. Eventually, Fulbright said, "OK, yes" when asked if she conspired to have the man restrained, she brandished the knife and she threatened him with it.

Fulbright was a law clerk for a federal court and a law student at the University of Arizona. She won the Miss Pima County pageant in 2005 and the Miss Desert Sun pageant in 2006. Hammond plead guilty to aggravated assault, and faces a sentence of as much as 8 3/4 years in prison. Radde also plead guilty to kidnapping conspiracy charges and faces 3 to 12 1/2 years in this case as well as another 3 to 12 1/2 years for unrelated drugs and weapons charges. All sentences will be handed down after the trial of Ergonis.

(Update 12-13-10) The former law clerk was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment and 6 years probation for her role in the kidnapping of her "boyfriend." Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael Miller handed down the sentence after Fulbright pled guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping and aggravated assault in a Tuscon, AZ courtroom Thursday, December 9.

Defense attorney Steve Sherick asked for 18 months of probation. Prosecutor Michael Jette didn’t specify how long he thought she should be placed on probation, but told Miller she didn’t live up to the terms of her plea agreement and almost had it revoked.Jette told Miller Fulbright has done “anything and everything” to protect Ergonis, thus violating her promise to tell the truth on the stand. She also told Radde what he should testify, Jette said.

[The victim]’s desire to move on with his life is the only reason Fulbright was extended a plea agreement in the first place and it’s the only reason it hasn’t been revoked, Jette said. Fulbright still hasn’t accepted responsibility for her actions or shown remorse, Jette said.

Sherick told Miller his client’s testimony was truthful and consistent with police statements and defense interviews she’s given. The defense attorney cited Fulbright’s remorse and behavior while on pretrial release and while in jail as reasons for a short term of probation.

Besides the prison sentence, Fulbright was also ordered to pay $15,000 restitution to her victim. Ergonis will be sentenced later this week.

(Update 1-12-11) Ergonis was sentenced to 22 1/2 years imprisonment on December 16, 2010. He was convicted in November 2010 by a Pima County jury of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated robbery. It was revealed that Fulbright had been "dating" Ergonis for months, writing him while he was on tril to tell him that the prosecution had no case and that she did not want to testify against him.

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