Kentucky man on death row for Horry County woman’s abduction, death loses federal appeal

This is an undated mug shot of Brandon Basham taken from the Richland County Detention Center website Monday Feb. 14, 2005, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Richland County Detention)
This is an undated mug shot of Brandon Basham taken from the Richland County Detention Center website Monday Feb. 14, 2005, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Richland County Detention) AP

A Kentucky man, who was sentenced to die for carjacking and kidnapping a Galivants Ferry woman in 2002, has lost his federal appeal that sought to overturn his convictions and death sentence.

Justices with the U.S. Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit issued their 66-page opinion Monday that Brandon Basham’s claims had no merit and a federal district court ruling denying his appeal was affirmed.

The 33-year-old appealed the June 2013 opinion that denied his claims of ineffective counsel, prosecutorial misconduct and that he was incompetent during his 2004 trial.

Basham was convicted of carjacking resulting in death and kidnapping resulting in the death of 44-year-old Alice Donovan, who was taken in November 2002 from the parking lot of Conway’s Wal-Mart.

Donovan’s death was part of a 17-day crime spree by Basham and 38-year-old Chadrick Evan Fulks, who were cellmates at a Kentucky jail and escaped from there.

Both men are now being held on federal death row in Terre Haute, Ind., awaiting execution. It is unclear when that could be scheduled.

The last federal execution was in 2003 before officials put them on hold for debate about regulations for lethal injections after several inmates sued that the means were inhumane.

In December 2013, Fulks asked that his remaining appeals be stopped and said he was ready to accept an execution date once it is set. His appeals were previously denied.

Fulks also helped authorities in 2009 and led them to Donovan’s remains in Horry County.

Both men pleaded guilty and were sentenced to life in prison for abducting and killing 19-year-old Samantha Burns, a Marshall University student last seen in 2002 during their crime spree. Her body has never been found.

Burns, of West Hamlin, W.Va., disappeared after telephoning her mother in November 2002 to tell her she was leaving the mall near Huntington, W.Va., and heading home to West Hamlin, about 15 miles away.

Burns never got there. The disappearance set off a massive manhunt that led to her burned-out vehicle about 15 minutes south of Huntington.

Soon after Burns’ abduction, the men came to the Myrtle Beach area and committed crimes here, including carjacking and kidnapping Donovan, which led to her death.

In his appeal, Basham asked that his conviction and sentences be vacated because his lawyers allowed him to speak to investigators outside of their presence during a search for Donovan soon after the crime spree, the opinion showed.

Basham also contends his lawyers failed to question his competency during his trial when he got into a scuffle with U.S. Marshals, and they failed to stop prosecutors from introducing evidence about Burns during his trial for Donovan’s murder, according to the appeal opinion. He also said his lawyers failed to provide his file for his first appeal to appellate attorneys.

In the appeal, Basham also said that prosecutors presented false testimony during his trial that showed Basham had admitted he was Donovan’s killer. Basham has claimed that Fulks was the perpetrator in the crimes.

But in Monday’s opinion justices wrote: “The government’s consistent position has remained that Basham and Fulks shared responsibility for Donovan’s death.”

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or on Twitter @tonyaroot.