Crime, Kumari Fulbright, Trials

Beauty Queen Kumari Fulbright’s Star Turn — On the Witness Stand

About once every two months, someone sends us an email asking, “Whatever happened to Kumari Fulbright?” Well, now we have an update.

In case you don’t recall, Kumari Fulbright was a Texas high school cheerleader, Arizona beauty queen, and second-year law student at the University of Arizona — until she was accused of participating in a plot to kidnap an ex-boyfriend, which put a crimp in her legal studies.

Last week, Fulbright took the stand — not in a moot court or mock trial competition, but in the criminal trial of her co-conspirator, Robert Ergonis. And it seems that Fulbright’s testimony, despite its occasional evasiveness, was effective. On Tuesday, the jury convicted Ergonis of kidnapping, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (a gun), assault, and armed robbery.

Fulbright’s testimony against Ergonis was made pursuant to a plea agreement, which provides for her to receive a two-year prison sentence. She will be officially sentenced in early 2011 — and is stuck in jail until then.

Kumari cut a colorful figure on the witness stand….

And not just because of her orange jumpsuit. According to the Tucson Examiner, Fulbright stole the spotlight and gave the jury the ol’ razzle dazzle. She even “referred to herself on the stand as Roxie Hart, the villainess-turned-star in the justice-themed Broadway musical “Chicago.”

An Arizona reader (and former Kumari classmate) sent us this synopsis:

Kumari Fulbright has been back in the headlines here in the ol’ Pueblo. Her alleged co-conspirator, Robert Ergonis, is on trial. Fulbright testified — I saw a brief video of her testimony on the local morning news plus a couple articles in the newspaper.

Ironically, jail seems to have treated Kumari well! She looks better now than she did three years ago when we were in law school together. She’s put on a little weight and her skin has cleared up.

This reader was more impressed by Fulbright’s appearance than the Examiner:

Fulbright’s hair was no longer blonde and she had dark circles around her eyes while on the stand.

C’mon, guys, cut her some slack. It’s hard to find a good hairstylist in prison. And the Ninth Circuit has yet to hold that withholding blond hair dye from an inmate violates the Eighth Amendment (but just give them some time).

Back to our AZ tipster:

Anyway, Kumari claims she didn’t know and didn’t plan any violence. She testified that she didn’t do any of the stuff the victim says she did. The victim says he escaped by distracting Kumari with a joke.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To escape from a crazy, gun-wielding beauty queen turned law student.

As for her relationship with the kidnapping victim — her ex-boyfriend, Josh Conway, whom she accused of stealing and pawning her jewelry — Fulbright expressed the view that he was beneath her. She testified, with more than a hint of elitism:

I felt bamboozled. I felt like my pride was hurt because I considered myself a good judge of character, someone who was smart. And here I am, with someone who I just dated [who] was educationally inferior to me, not as well-read, not as well-traveled, and he completely pulled the wool over my eyes, so I think I was, I felt conned.

An Arizona law student who feels conned? Join the club.

Maybe Fulbright will end up better off after her prison stint than she would have been had she just stayed in and graduated from law school. The value of a law degree is open to question, but license-plate making is an undoubtedly valuable skill.

Ergonis guilty of kidnap, robbery, assault with deadly weapon [KGUN9]
Last Man in Kidnapping Guilty; Sues judge, prosecutors, and sheriff [Tucson Examiner]
Victim in ‘beauty queen’ case details ’07 kidnapping [Arizona Daily Star]
Woman: Violence wasn’t planned in jewelry grab [Arizona Daily Star]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Kumari Fulbright

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