On August 30, 2007, Texas, the state that executes more people than any in the country, plans to deliver a lethal injection to Kenneth Foster, Jr. While this may seem like nothing out of the ordinary for a state that will perform its 400th execution this summer, Kenneth’s case is unique. He killed no one. The state of Texas will be the first to admit this. It seems unthinkable that a man who did not even touch the gun that ended the life of Michael LaHood, Jr. on August 14, 1996 in San Antonio, Texas would be sent to his death for such a crime. What makes this possible is gross misuse the Law of Parties. As the Austin Chronicle has put it, he was in “the wrong place at the wrong time.” A number of states have laws that enable prosecutors to hold those merely present at the scene of a crime legally responsible. Texas is the only state that applies this statute in capital cases, making it the only place in the United States where a person can be factually innocent of murder and still face the death penalty.
Write, call and fax:
Gov. Rick Perry
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, TX 78711-2428
E-mail: Use the form at www.governor.state.tx.us/contact
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
P.O. Box 1340
Austin, TX 78711
Kenneth has admitted to having participated in the robberies. However there was no plan to murder someone. Kenneth faced trial with the shooter, Mauriceo Brown (who was executed on July 20, 2006 for murder of Lahood). Brown admitted to the shooting, but clearly and freely stated that he acted on his own. No evidence exists that proves Kenneth participated in or knew a murder would be committed
Dewayne Dillard testified in an evidentiary hearing of Kenneth’s ignorance of Brown’s intent. Dillard said that Kenneth looked surprised and panicked after hearing the gunshot. Kenneth also started to drive away, but did not at the request of Dillard. Dillard’s testimony was not presented at trial. The judge told the jury that it could “find the defendant Kenneth Foster guilty of the offense of capital murder, though he may have had no intent to commit the offense.” These instructions contradict both the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Enmund v. Florida and the standards of conviction under the Texas “Law of Parties.”
o Enmund v. Florida: the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment and is a disproportionate punishment when the defendant was not present at the killing, did not kill, and did not intend that the victims be killed or did not anticipate lethal force might be used in the course of a robbery or to effect a safe escape.
o The standards of Texas’ “Law of Parties” require the prosecution to prove intent to conspire to commit murder.
The death of Michael T. Lahood, Jr. is undoubtedly a tragedy. However, the worst thing Texas could do in this case is create more innocent victims.
A statement from his lawyer:
Look at this article, History in the Making.
The execution of Johnny Conner will bring the capital punishment tally to 400 for the state of Texas, marking the 31st year in a row Texas has led the United States in executions.
“Texas is a large state population-wise, so, of course, the number of murders committed is going to be higher,” Death Penalty Information Center director Richard Dieter said.
This year, the U.S. has executed 33 condemned inmates, 20 of those taking place in Texas.
“The number of murders committed…” What murders are they referencing? Is it murders committed by the state using our tax dollars or murders committed by people on death row? I only ask because Kenneth Foster killed no one. He drove a car. If they are using the high population of Texas and therefor the higher number of murders committed to justify our outrageous record of state sponsored murder, then what does that have to do with Kenneth Foster? Again, he murdered no one.
Texas is an embarrassment–the most barbaric state in the US. Look at this map of US executions: LINK It’s time to stop these state sanctioned murders but, by all means, stop the murder of an innocent man, Kenneth Foster. Take action!