Georgia Pardons and Parole Board Hearing - July 12, 2002
(via video tape)
I would think that putting Buck to death would just be a waste of life, in other words, something that shouldn't happen is the way I feel about it. I think he is a man that needs to be spared. He would be good with the state working with them as far as I'm concerned.
I don't know way; I can't understand why they want to put him to death. I mean that is just out of the question as far as I'm concerned.
I'm Grady Smith, I was a private contractor. I was building Sebastian Cove in 1985. When we first put up the guardhouse, Buck came on as a guard. On the guardhouse, him and his father and his mother all ran the guardhouse. And as things produced along Buck went into, he was into construction business himself. Building, contracting stuff. He got in with log house development and started building log houses. I saw him every day. He and I worked together; in fact, I did a lot of grading for him where they built log houses on them. As I was building the road and everything in there.
I have never met a better person in my life, than I have Buck as far as that's concerned. I've always thought a lot of him. I knew his wife and I knew Mark.
I've known Buck 10 years or more and we worked together off and on every day just about it. And I can't couldn't met a better person to work with. He's good-natured, he liked to joke a lot, go on and cut up. He was just as pleasant as he could be.
After I met him and knew him real well, then I met his wife and Mark. Which Mark was just a young kid at that time. He was well-disciplined kid, minded his daddy, thought the world of his daddy. And he thought of his mother, of course, too.
I'm... I just think he is a wonderful person myself. I've always been a worker myself and another good reason I though a lot of him. He was a worker too, he was a work-aholic. He didn't let anybody interfere with what he was doing or anything, it didn't bother him. If they had anything to say about what he was doing he just shrugged it off in a kind of joking way like. Wasn't any problem at on that part of it.
I guess for one reason... I'm pretty sick is the reason why I can't say exactly what I would like to say now. My wife, she knows Pattie and all of them and they are all good friends and have always been.
Ann: Well, I knew Buck. He was a guard up there and I would talk to him and his daddy, sister. Then I got to know Buck. Buck would come to the house. Him and Grady would work together. And Buck would help us with some things we would ask him... he would help us. And he would help anybody out. He was always good to people. And Pattie, she was real sweet. They didn't seem like they had no troubles, you know... they was. And Mark was a well behaved boy and they disclipened him very well, smart in school, taught him to work. And he helped Buck during the summer doing things. He was just a sweet person to know. He wasn't mean, he was good to people.
Grady: He worked with his daddy all the time. His daddy learned him just about everything he knew. Wasn't any problem at all, wasn't no backlashing or anything, he just went right ahead and did it and everything.
Ann: I know one year Grady couldn't do a garden and he had a machine to fix. Buck came and got the machine and he fixed it and he plowed the garden up for us. And he put the fertilizer in and he showed me how to do it.
Sanjay: Okay, I'll ask a few questions and then... I'm Sanjay ______, one of the attorneys for Wallace Fugate. I'm here to talk to you about the clemency meeting before the parole board. And if you would introduce yourself to the members of the parole board.
Grady: I'm Grady Smith and this is my wife, Ann.
Sanjay: Could you tell the parole board why you can't be there in person?
Grady: I can assure you that I would be there if there was any way... I had a bypass and everything and there ain't no way I can get in and out of the house alone rather than be there. But if there was any way I could have, I would have been there.
Sanjay: What would you have told the parole board about what would be the proper thing to do to Mr. Fugate.
Grady: I think the best thing, the most wonderful thing that could happen to him would be to put him on life without parole. Anything other than put him to death. It's just... it's just a waste of a man's life. Everything else just said and done his whole... his wife and boy both passed away and I don't understand why they want to put him away too. I think he should be spared, paroled, at least.
Sanjay: Why don't we begin by talking about how you first got to met Buck. When was the first time you met him?
Grady: I believe the first time I ever met Buck was in 1985 when I started clearing land for Sebastian Cove. And immediately we built a guardhouse to keep people from going in and out. He... Buck took over the guardhouse. And his mother and father, all of, and Pattie, they ran the guardhouse. Themselves, you know you have to have certain shifts and everything. They sit up the shifts for each one of them. That's when I got to know them real well. Because I, I actually, I was over the Sebastian Cove. That’s the reason, how it happened to start with. Then we worked together for the next 10 to 12 years. Right on down the line on all that.
Sanjay: Just about every day?
Grady: I saw him every day. Real good friends of mine. I've got a lot of good friends in the world and they as good friend I've ever had. I’d give anything to see him... life without parole, life on death row, anything than put him to death.
Sanjay: Tell us what Buck was like when you met him? And when you got to know him?
Grady: Well, he just, he was just a friendly guy, actually just like somebody you know all your life. You didn't have to beat around the bush about who he was, or anything, you know. You just called him Buck and that was the way it was. And he called me Grady and we just went on like that all the time we were there together. David Aldridge, the man who owned the property, I introduced him to Buck. And he got to liking Buck and we just worked together. That's all there was to it. I don't think you... you can beat the man, there ain't no way. It would be just a terrible waste of life to put him away.
Sanjay: And did you see him... and did you get to know Pattie?
Grady: Oh yell, got to know Pattie well. The first day or two, they introduced their selves and we got along just fine.. they were just wonderful.
Sanjay: And how was the relationship between Buck and Pattie?
Grady: Wonderful. You would have thought there was no way in the world they would have separated. In fact, I was surprised when I heard they were getting a divorce. Because Buck, he just thought the world of Pattie. He would do anything in the world for her.
Ann: They was doing fine. And that boy of his, he would do anything for him.
Sanjay: How old was Mark at that time?
Grady: He must have been 2 or 3 years old when we first met him. He just a baby is all he was. And he was always just like his daddy, smart as a whip. He knew everything that was going on all the time. And he always respected his daddy and his mother, of course, too. He just got mislead down the road somewhere.
Sanjay: How was he... how was Buck with Mark?
Grady: He was fine, I mean, he wasn't harsh or anything but if he told him something, Mark knew that his daddy meant it so there wasn't any playing around about it he went ahead and did what his daddy told him to do. He didn't have to whip him and all this that and the other thing. He would just tell him what was what and that was it. Mark thought the world of his daddy even when Mark died he thought, still thought the world of his daddy. Of course, they put a lot of stuff in his head against him and everything
Sanjay: As far as you could tell, Mrs. Smith, what was your impression about Buck's personality and his relationship with Pattie and Mark?
Ann: Buck, he had a good personality. And with Pattie, you know, they seemed happy, they seemed like a young couple, you know. You know, always kidding, going on. They never fussed. They was always doing something for you, coming around to see you. But he had a good personality.
Sanjay: Can you give us an example on how he would come around and do stuff for you?
Ann: Well, when he came and built our seawall he pulled a trailer... what was it they had? A trailer or fifth wheel...
Grady: Fifth wheel.
Ann: Fifth wheel. They stayed up there you know, where they built it. They would always work together. They seemed happy together.
Sanjay: Buck and Pattie would work together?
Grady: Yell, they worked together. They were always side-by-side.
Ann: Yes, they built a house together.
Sanjay: Did you see them build their house?
Ann: I seen them build some on David's houses when David was working down there.
Grady: Aldridge’s down there.
Ann: I went over there all the time.
Grady: And it didn't make no difference what you were doing you could ask Buck to help you and he would drop whatever he was doing and he would be right in there with you.
Sanjay: Could you give us an example of that?
Grady: Well, the time he fixed the floor in the house for us. He came over that at night and fixed it for us when he was busy. I told him not to take off no time to do it and he said, well, I'll be over there at night and fix it.
Sanjay: What was wrong with the floor?
Grady: We had tile put in the log house over there. We had carpet put in, see, I'm from Dalton, Georgia. I bought the carpet, I just put carpet in the whole house and Buck cut the carpet out. We just couldn't find anybody that knew what they were doing to do it. To pull it out and put a rim, put a gold rim around it. Course I had a lot of time on the machines and stuff like that. They’d break down and I would not have time to do it myself. And he’d just go ahead and did it for me and everything. And didn't really want to take pay for it.
Ann: No, he wouldn't take pay for anything. He would always say, maybe you can help me one day.
Grady: Course, anything he ever asked me to do I was right there for him too. That makes a big difference.
Sanjay: Did you ever see them, you mentioned, with horses and playing together as a family. Can you tell the parole board a little bit about that, about what you observed about Buck about...
Grady: Yes, they had horses, they rode horses together, and all this and the other. Just about anything if one of them did the other was there. They tried to work together on all things like that.
Yell, it wasn't all work and no play with Buck and Mark. Because whenever Mark had anything to play with or do, like ball, or anything to do like that, Buck was always right in there with him. Explain it to him and all that stuff.
I thought they were just a wonderful family myself, and all, the way they worked together and everything. And then a lot of times we would be, they would be working late, Pattie worked with Buck and Mark worked with Buck. And a lot of times, my wife, she don't work, she's never worked, and she would have supper ready and stuff like that, We’d ask them to come over and eat with us and they would come right on over and eat with us for supper because a lot of times because Ann would have something cooked and she'd ask them to come because they had worked so late and they didn't... time they went home and got something to eat and everything, it would be way in the night and all. They'd just come over just like they was family and eat with us and everything. Was no problem at all. In fact, they was family to us exactly. We make friends to everybody and Buck was a real good friend, an outstanding friend. He and Pattie and Mark.
This is real serious on me since I've been sick. It breaks me down a lot to even think about it. Them putting Buck to death. I can't understand why, I mean, of course I'm old man, I'm 78 years old. I’d like to see him with life without parole, anything other than the death penalty. I think he really deserves it.
Ann: When I first went and seen Buck, Buck wrote me and he said Ann you don't want to see me, I'm different. Well, the first time he didn't smile or anything. He wasn't very talkative. And he was different to me. But the more we went to see him he got to smiling hug you and talk to just like you know. But to me he was the same fellow you know.
And I don't believe he meant to kill Pattie. Knew he loved her so much. He loved Mark too. I figured it was an accident.
I don't believe he should die for it. I think he ought to live. In other words I don't believe in the electric chair.
Buck was a wonderful friend and he will always be.
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