Wife of manslaughter suspect says he was standing his ground during cellphone robbery
Wife: 'I think he was scared for his wife and unborn child'
Friday afternoon, 47-year-old Curtis Fulcher was arrested by Seminole County Sheriff's deputies after Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala's Office put out a warrant for his arrest for manslaughter.
Orlando police said they closed their investigation and forwarded findings to Ayala's office which decided to file charges for the shooting and killing of 16-year-old Denim Williams in Orlando's Parramore neighborhood on Jan. 2, 2019.
Vanessa Fulcher, Curtis' wife, said she was stunned by the charges four months after the shooting.
"The detectives, from day one, they were never accusatory, they were very consolatory," Fulcher said. "The detective told me we're lucky, because usually it happens the other way around, usually you are the ones shot. I was really thinking they were going to arrest my husband then. They were like no, it's looking like self defense."
Police said 16-year-old Williams and his accomplice, 18-year-old Deondre Florence, "were involved in a criminal street gang that is responsible for multiple robberies" and together planned to rob the Fulchers on Jan. 2.
Police said the teens spent several days texting and calling Curtis Fulcher to lure him to Parramore so they could steal the iPhone he was planning to sell them for $650.
When Fulcher arrived in Parramore with his four-months pregnant wife Vanessa, Florence approached the car first. Eventually Williams, a junior at Jones High School, arrived and examined the phone.
The phone battery was dead so the Fulchers began to charge the phone while they spoke with Williams. Vanessa Fulcher said Williams appeared to be shaking as if he was nervous.
Fulcher said her husband has a feeling something wasn't right.
"He [Curtis Fulcher] even told the guy if you can't afford the phone, we have financing, I can help you make money if you want a phone, always looking for people to help," Vanessa Fulcher said. "He said all of these things of encouragement as if he was talking him down from something."
Vanessa Fulcher said Williams then grabbed the phone.
"When my husband went to go hand him the phone, he snatched it," Vanessa Fulcher said. "And he snatched it with his right hand. My husband still has the scratch on his hand, that's how violent it was. And then he went for his waistband."
Fulcher said she was in fear for her life, her unborn son's life, and her husband's life.
"My husband is thinking he's about to pull a gun on us and shoot us for this phone so my husband grabs the firearm and got out the car, pushing him [Williams] out the way with the door," Vanessa Fulcher said. "I panicked, I sped off up the street."
She heard the shots. Afterward, Curtis Fulcher explained what happened.
"He's like we got out the car, and we were just struggling, and he went to go run, and he started shooting," Vanessa Fulcher said. "He said as they were struggling that's when he took the first shot. But then as he was running away he was going to get into a car, and my husband thought there was people in the car."
Vanessa Fulcher called 911 almost immediately after the shooting.
"We went to go sell something online and basically they robbed us and then my husband was trying to protect us and he ended up having to like shoot at them," Fulcher told the 911 dispatcher.
Police said they found Williams dead in a car.
"When we got done with questioning and they told him that boy was young, and was 16, Curtis broke down, he felt so bad," Vanessa Fulcher said.
Fulcher said her husband was standing his ground.
"He was, with all my heart he was," Fulcher said. "It's a split second decision. When someone snatches something away from you and goes for your waistband. When you're in that situation and truly feel like you're going to die because who knows, we didn't know. That kid could've shot this way and came up on the driver's side and shot the other way. You just don't know."
Florence was arrested shortly after the incident and charged with felony murder.
Fulcher said her husband was saddened to learn of Florence's arrest because he knew it would likely affect the teenager's future.
She said Fulcher could relate because he was a troubled young man who grew up into a mentor and was active in charities and ministries aimed at stopping violence.
"He's [Curtis Fulcher] in jail right now, I just talked to him, he found this kid he could mentor, you don't have to live that life, right now in jail," Vanessa Fulcher said with tears in her eyes. "That's the man they're trying to say is a monster and trying to take away from his unborn kid."
Curtis Fulcher's friend and business partner, Jontay Jackson, said Fulcher would often sell phones from his Sanford cell phone store using Craigslist or the LetGo App.
Jackson said Fulcher called him right after the shooting.
" All he could think about is protecting his family at all costs," Jackson said. "He didn't give a damn what happened to him. All he wanted to make sure was his wife and baby was ok, that's his first boy in her stomach."
Police said the single bullet that struck and killed Williams entered through his back and exited through his chest.
They did not say if Williams was shot during a struggle or if he was running away.
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