Campaign Steps Up to Save Kenneth Foster (part 1)

Part I: Kenneth Foster: Scheduled To Die for Driving a Car
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.
How is such a thing possible?  Indeed, conventional wisdom tells us that the death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst.  It seems unthinkable, then, that a man who did not even touch the gun that tragically 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 the Law of Parties.
Several states across the country have laws that enable prosecutors to hold those present at the scene of a crime legally responsible if they aided in its execution.  Texas is the only capital punishment state with such a statute, making it the only place in the United States where a person can be factually innocent of murder and still face the death penalty.  Specifically, the Law of Parties holds individuals accountable for the crimes of others if they were physically present, whether they were a party to the crime or simply should have anticipated that it would happen.
On August 14, 1996, Kenneth Foster was driving a car carrying Mauriceo Brown, Dewayne Dillard, and Julius Steen.  Brown and Steen committed two armed robberies before, on Kenneth’s insistence, they began to head home.  After accidentally turning down a dead-end street, they found themselves behind another car whose occupants lived in the neighbourhood.  Concerned that they were being followed, the occupants of the car parked and waved the four men to the side of the road.  Kenneth parked and Brown exited the car. Words were exchanged, a shot was fired, and Michael LaHood, Jr. was dead.
The contents of this packet shed light on the events of August 14, 1996, the trial of Kenneth Foster, and the contents and flaws of the Texas Law of Parties.  During his ten years on death row, Kenneth’s case has generated a broad coalition of supporters who are working hard to save his life.  It is our hope that you will find the following information compelling enough to warrant significant media coverage.
Texas’s death row is full of compelling stories.  But Texas remains the most striking holdout on reform as the entire country is calling the practice of capital punishment into question.  Kenneth’s case raises vital questions, not only about the Law of Parties, but also about the practice of capital punishment in Texas.
It is our belief that the Law of Parties not only creates an alarmingly low threshold of proof when a defendant’s life is on the line, but was also grossly misapplied in Kenneth’s individual case.  He may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but is hardly deserving of a death sentence. This extraordinary case deserves widespread attention.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s