Stefanie Silvey Investigates Indiana's Death Row...Eric Wrinkles - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Stefanie Silvey Investigates Indiana's Death Row...Eric Wrinkles

Eric Wrinkles, as he was interviewed by Stefanie Silvey Eric Wrinkles, as he was interviewed by Stefanie Silvey

Reporter: Stefanie Silvey
Web Producer: Amber Griswold

Dead men walking, that's how the men on death row have come to be known, but in Indiana that's simply no longer the case.

The last man to die for his crimes from southwestern Indiana was Frank Quarles in 1946.

In the last 20 years, 11 men have been sent to death row from here, but none have been executed.

Exhaustive appeals and numerous overturned convictions have now dwindled that number to four.

Eric Wrinkles is among those remaining, fighting for his life on death row.

Back in 1994, Wrinkles cut the phone lines and kicked in the door of his brother-in-law's home.

Wearing camouflage and face paint, he gunned down Tony and Natalie Fulkerson as they tried to escape with the children in the home.

Wrinkles also shot and killed his wife, Debbie as she tried to defend herself.

It was the couple's own daughter who ran to a neighbor and called 911.

In the call, the child said, "My dad shot my uncle, Tony and Natalie, and then my mom tried to shoot my dad. He, he killed..."

Stefanie Silvey went within the walls of Westville's Maximum Control Facility, the current home of Indiana's Death Row, and current home to Eric Wrinkles.

In his first television interview, Wrinkles talked with Stefanie about his hopes for being the next death row prisoner to have his death sentence overturned.

Wrinkles was led into the interview booth onacclimateith armed guards. He still struggles to acclaimate himself to life on death row.

He commented, "Anything, seeing the sky, you know I mean walking, being able to walk through grass, you know seeing my kids."

Wrinkles world comes with a florescent light instead of sun. He has Plexiglas and steel to replace grass and trees.

Eric Wrinkles said, "I tell a lot of people it's similar to having the run of your house, and then the next day being confined to your bathroom."

Outsiders can interact with him only by telephone. That became his fate when he murdered three people in 1994.

Wrinkles commented, "I still have nightmares to this day about it. You know, I guess that's a small price to pay for that."

He prays one day he might leave this place. With sentences being overturned for so many other fellow inmates, Wrinkles has hope.

While Eric Wrinkles prays for his life on Indiana's Death Row, Reverend Joseph Cunningham pleads for compassion.

Like Wrinkles, Reverend Cunningham is from Evansville. Both men moved away, but now live within minutes of each other, but they share more than proximity.

 

Reverend Joseph Cunningham was one of 12 jurors who decided Eric Wrinkles should die for his crimes.

Cunningham said, "I never in my wildest dreams or thoughts believed that I would be on that jury."

Cunningham commented, "One can't comprehend the horror of having to see the weapon that has taken lives, to smell the blood on the sheets, to see the pictures that nobody has to see."

Wrinkles said, "I think if it was presented to me as it was presented, I might have done the same thing they did."

Cunningham explained, "What I kept picturing in my mind's eye was the picture of Natalie's face, with the powder burns. Looking at that picture, this helpless woman, running for her life, to know that she was shot so close that, that was so clearly visible on her face was what brought me to the other side."

Surprisingly, Eric Wrinkles sympathizes.

When Stefanie Silvey asked, "How did you feel about the death penalty before?"

Wrinkles responded, "Oh, I believed in it, big supporter, big supporter. Take em' all out back and shoot em'. And I'm not against it now because I'm here. I see how people are put here, that's what I'm against and I've seen some of the guys back here I'm with the worst of the worst, I don't think so. That's ridiculous."

Wrinkles accepts responsibility for his crimes, but blames them on his addiction to methamphetamine.

Wrinkles explained, "You have no cognitive reasoning ability. None. You can not, it's, it's amazing. You don't realize it either at the time. You can focus on one thing, it's an obsession and you can not reason, your reasoning ability is gone, none."

Reverend Cunningham said, "Even with a delusional mind, there were too many aspects that didn't allow us to excuse the behavior."

Stefanie told Wrinkles, "But you have to know now, it looked bad coming in with camouflage and..."

Wrinkles replied, "Oh yeah, it's nuts. I mean, it's, it's nuts."

He says he's a different person now.

"I want to call it instant Christian. You throw in two parts prison, and one part Bible and shake it and you get an instant Christian, you know. I went through a lot for seven or eight years. I didn't have anything to do with it. It was a slow maturation process for me, before I came to that, that helps."

Reverend Cunningham says if the jury's decision was overturned and Wrinkles received life without parole, he'd be fine with that.

Reverend Cunningham said, "I pray to God that we did that which was just. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about it."

And there's not a day that Eric Wrinkles doesn't think about the wrong turn he took 10 years ago, that changed so many lives forever.

Westville's Maximum Control Facility is a temporary housing unit for the inmates while death row in Michigan City is being renovated.

Despite the fact that the project is costing taxpayers millions, more inmates are being removed from death row, then staying.

Wrinkles and other inmates are angry about the conditions there. They say many of the rights they previously had like spending time together, the ability to move about more freely, and larger cells, were unfairly taken away in the move.

Eric Wrinkles actions affected far more people than himself, but even his victim's relatives disagree whether he should die for his crimes.

Mae Mcintire, Debbie Wrinkles and Tony Fulkerson's mother, commented, "I don't know why Eric thinks he has the right to live when he killed three people and made four children orphans."

Mary Winnecke, Natalie Fulkerson's mother, said, "There is no closure as long as the death penalty is hanging over our heads."

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