Justin Fuller Executed For Grisly 1997 Tyler Murder

We look back on the 1997 crime which shocked East Texas by the bizarre and disturbing details.

Donald Whittington wasn't involved in crime, or anything other than what friends say was a quiet, kind life.

"Friendly and personable.  I would say he's just a normal guy, an average guy," said an acquaintance in 1997.

Donald was maced, tied up and taken from his apartment by Justin Fuller, Samhermundre Wideman, Elaine Hays, and Brent Chandler.  Whittington was forced to withdraw money from his bank, but then was taken to Lake Tyler.  He was led to his death.

That was on April 21st, 1997.  Whittington was shot multiple times, and his body left in the woods a hundred yards from shore.  The crime scene wasn't discovered for days -- at least by the police.  Curious teenagers from Chapel Hill heard of the crime and toured the site.  They never told police.

Fuller had bragged about the killings in Chapel Hill.  That was home to both Whittington and the defendants.

Chapel Hill ISD police officer Steve Dunklin told KLTV in 1997, "At no time did anyone tell an adult or law enforcement. They kept it to themselves, went out, and looked at the body."

Even more bizarre: the group stole the victim's clothes from his apartment, even his underwear. And then there was Justin Fuller's booking photo.  He was wearing colored contact lenses his co-defendants said belonged to Donald Whittington.

Fuller's cohorts also pointed directly to him as the shooter. The prosecution commenced.

"Bound up like a mummy, on his hands with Fuller standing over his head," was how then-Smith County District Attorney Jack Skeen described the scene.

With the evidence and testimony, much of it graphic, a jury found Fuller guilty of capital murder. And of all the defendants, he was the only one set to die.

It was a verdict that shattered two families.

After the verdict, Donald Whittington II, father of the victim, told reporters, "Our son's gone and we still lost-- lost miserably.  At least [Fuller's parents] got a chance to see their son before he's gone. But the Lord be with us and them to follow us through this."