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Episode 107: Scott Nelson Takes the Stand

At 11.30am on Sept. 27, 2017, housekeeper and nanny Jennifer Fulford received a FedEx package from the “Bacon of the Month Club” at the home of her employer in Winter Park, Florida, Reid Berman. Shortly after that, she was supposed to pick up Reid Berman’s son Oliver from school. She didn’t show up. Her body was later found in a vacant field close to the Apopka-Vineland Road in southwest Orange County. Her head had been wrapped in duct tape, and she’d been stabbed her seven times.

The perpetrator of the crime was an unrepentant 55-year-old man named Scott Nelson. As he testifies, Scott Nelson, 55, had a tough life. His mother was schizophrenic, his father abusive. He tried to go straight but failed, got into drugs and turned to crime to feed his habit. He served 25 years in federal prison for six felonies. When released to the streets of Orlando, Florida in 2010, he got a lucky break. A good Samaritan gave him a job in a paint store, and let him live in an apartment above his garage. But his luck ran out when his probation officer turned up at his job, which led to him getting fired and losing his home. For Scott Nelson, this was the last straw in a life of indignities. He was through. As he said on the stand, “Once you kick a dog enough times, they bite back.”

“I suffered to make my way up the mountain, and this maniac comes in and cuts it out from underneath me. What am I going to do? Get another job and let him do it again? No. We are going fight back,” Nelson says. He testifies that he was planning to shoot his probation officer, but instead, he decided to target the ritzy home of Reid Berman because he was homeless and hungry. He went to Walmart and bought duct tape and zip ties (“never leave home without them,” he advises the jury). When Ms. Fulford opened the door of the Berman home, he pushed his way inside with a knife. After binding Fulford with zip ties and wrapping her in a comforter, he explains that he put her in the trunk of her own car and drove her to an ATM, where he withdrew $300 from her bank account. He describes her death as “collateral damage.”

In his testimony, Nelson blames the federal government and his probation officer for the crime, saying they “lit a firecracker, lit a bomb” in his troubled soul. “Jennifer Fulford would be alive today” if it were not for them, he claims. For their part, prosecutors argued Nelson was a “narcissist” who wanted an opportunity to “rail against the world,” and so he murdered Fulford with a plan to get caught. Despite his request for the death penalty, Nelson was sentenced to life without parole.

Listen to the episode here.