FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Bryan McCann, Media Relations
Campaign to End the Death Penalty – Austin
http://www.nodeathpenalty.org <http://www.nodeathpenalty.org> (National)
http://www.freekenneth.com (Free Kenneth Foster)
San Antonio Native Kenneth Foster to be Executed for Driving a Car
May 8, 2007, Austin, Tex. – Supporters of Texas death row inmate Kenneth Foster,
Jr. learned last week that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to here his appeal
and that the state has since set an August 30 execution date for the San Antonio
native. Foster was sentenced to death for involvement in the 1996 murder of
Michael T. LaHood, Jr. Prosecutors claimed that Foster knowingly drove the
getaway car carrying assailant Mauriceo Brown, who was executed June 19, 2006.
Foster was convicted on the basis of Texas’s Law of Parties, which states a
defendant can be held criminally responsible for the offense of another if
“acting with intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense he
solicits, encourages, directs, aids or attempts to aid the other persons to
commit the offense” or if the crime “was one that should have been anticipated
as a result of the carrying out of the conspiracy.”
Foster and his supporters acknowledge he was driving the car on the night of
LaHood’s murder. However, they maintain that Foster was unaware a crime was
going to take place. Brown claimed that he shot LaHood in self-defense and
stated he did so on his own. During Fosters appeal, at the evidentiary
hearing, Dwayne Dillard, the other defendant in the case, testified that Foster
started to drive away after hearing the gunshot but Dillard told him to stop. A
juror claimed that he would have voted for a different verdict had he known that
Foster had tried to drive away after the gunshot. But Dillard’s testimony was
not presented at the trial.
Foster’s supporters also claim that his conviction under the Law of Parties was
unconstitutional. They note that the trial judge instructed the jury that it
could find Foster guilty of capital murder based on association with Brown
exclusively, without evidence that Foster intended to rob and kill LaHood.
This, they claim, contradicted the Supreme Court’s decision in Enmund v.
Florida. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty violates
the Eighth Amendment and is a disproportionate punishment when the defendant
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.
“My brother is being put to death for being in the wrong place at the wrong
time, plain and simple,” explained Foster’s sister and advocate Claire Dube.
Dube also noted that Foster has an international network of supporters who hope
to stop the impending execution over the coming months. “The fact that we have
a date is real blow, but we are not giving up. Kenneth is a fighter and we
plan to fight with him every step of the way.”
Texas executes more individuals than any state in the country. So far this
year, the state has performed thirteen executions. Jose Moreno is scheduled to
be put to death on May 10, 2007. Nationally, support for capital punishment
continues to drop in the wake of growing concern surrounding the method of
lethal injection and the risk of executing innocent people. Florida and
California are two of several states that have recently halted executions
following claims that lethal injection causes condemned inmates to experience
pain before they die.
The Campaign to End the Death Penalty is a national abolitionist organization
based in Chicago. The Austin chapter was founded in 1999. The CEDP opposes
capital punishment for five reasons: it is racist, it targets the poor, it
condemns the innocent to die, it does not prevent crime, and it is cruel and
unusual. Online: http://www.nodeathpenalty.org <http://www.nodeathpenalty.org> .