By MICHELLE SAUNDERS/Staff Writer
Although it’s been three years, few can forget the horrific 2010 mugging at the Whole Foods in Preston Hollow. Jil Katz was loading groceries into her car when she was attacked by Timothy Eric Walters, who repeatedly slammed her face into the pavement before ripping her $90,000 diamond wedding ring from her finger and then fleeing in a Jaguar driven by Brian Maurice Fuller.
Both men were taken into custody, but a clerical error allowed Fuller to be released on a much lower bail than originally set. After changing his identity, he evaded police for almost two years until he was apprehended by U.S. marshals in East Texas last June.
Fuller, who was the mastermind behind this mugging as well as two other violent robberies in Highland Park, was sentenced on Jan. 22 to 40 years for each crime. The sentences, which will run concurrently, came at the recommendation of assistant district attorney Justin McCants, who began investigating the 2010 case last May. A trial was set for Jan. 28, but Fuller decided to take the prosecutor’s recommendation, which makes him eligible for parole in 20 years. Fuller will turn 57 years old next month.
“I was pretty surprised that he took the deal,” McCants said. “Forty years is basically a life sentence.”
Katz called Fuller’s sentencing “an incredible victory, not just for me, but for all of the women who he’s violated,” saying that an incredible weight was lifted off of her shoulders on Jan. 22. Although she was ready to testify, she is overjoyed that the ordeal is finally over.
The attack on Katz was the third in a string of grocery-store robberies in which Fuller would enter a store and pick out a victim, before waiting in his car for the woman to exit. He would then drop off an accomplice who would commit the actual crime, in exchange for drugs and a substantial amount of money, McCants said.
Fuller, who had a history of burglaries, was previously convicted in a 2006 aggravated robbery at the Tom Thumb in Highland Park Village and a 2007 robbery at the Whole Foods on Lomo Alto Drive.
Fuller never actually assaulted any of his victims. “As he would say, he ‘created monsters,’ ” McCants said, referring to the drug addicts who Fuller would typically hire and manipulate. In each of the robberies, Fuller stole a large, pear-shaped diamond ring.
Walters, who was not involved in the Highland Park robberies, was charged with aggravated robbery for his role in the 2010 case and was sentenced last April to 25 years in prison.
McCants believes seeing Fuller behind bars sends an important message to the community and to anyone who might be considering a similar crime.
“It’s important for the community to know that … justice has been served and that they’re protected from him,” McCants said. “It shows that law enforcement and the district attorney’s office will definitely prosecute and make sure that the community is safe from people who do these kinds of things.”
Katz, who needed five surgeries to fix the extensive damage, said emotional healing has taken longer than her physical healing. Although she was able to make a full recovery, she said there are things that will always stick with her, and some wounds that will never heal. Still, she’s quick to say that she’s no victim — and that she strongly believes that everything happens for a reason.
“I wasn’t going to sit in a corner and lick my wounds and feel sorry for myself,” Katz said. “I had to step up to the plate and show that I wasn’t going to be a victim, because then he would have won.”
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