Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trial Begins for Man Who Says He Shot Friend in Self-Defense; Fuller Charged with Second-Degree Murder; Could Get Life Sentence

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trial Begins for Man Who Says He Shot Friend in Self-Defense; Fuller Charged with Second-Degree Murder; Could Get Life Sentence

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Hannan

When Deborah Avery saw a car barely moving on the grass during her drive home, she pulled over to see if she could help the driver out.

She didn't expect to hear the driver, Eric Eugene Fuller, confess to shooting someone to death minutes before.

"He was just sitting in the driver's seat with his hands over his face," Avery said Wednesday while testifying in Fuller's murder trial. "At first he didn't acknowledge me, then he put his hands down and told me, 'I just shot my friend.' "

Fuller, 23, is charged with the second-degree murder of Carlton Derrick Hardaman, 24, in February 2013 and could get life in prison if he's convicted. At the time Fuller was arrested, police said there was some kind of drug deal involved that led to the shooting. They also said the two men were friends who'd grown up together.

Fuller shot Hardaman in the head while both men were in Fuller's car and then dumped his body outside where it was found on the grass near the curb on West 19th Street in Jacksonville.

Minutes later Fuller drove his vehicle into the underbrush off U.S. 1 in Nassau County north of the crime scene, which is where Avery, a captain with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department who was getting off work, first encountered him.

After Fuller told Avery what he'd done, she called police. Fuller repeated what he'd said to officials with the Nassau County Sheriff's Office after they arrived.

Fuller claimed he killed Hardaman in self-defense, but after arresting him police said his story conflicted with the evidence.

Assistant State Attorney Peter Overstreet told jurors that no one except Fuller and Hardaman saw what happened in the car, but the blood spatter evidence and testimony from the coroner would demonstrate that it was murder.

"The science and expert testimony is what you'll have to use," Overstreet said. …

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