Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Parole Board Votes 6-1 to Spare Kenneth Foster

By a vote of 6-1, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has recommended clemency for Kenneth Foster. Whether they were troubled by the implications in this case or simply yielded to overwhelming pressure, today justice was done.

This is only the third time in its history that the board has recommended commutation on a death row appeal. The final decision is up to Gov. Rick Perry, and although his concurrence seems likely, it's not guaranteed.

In fact, the Board of Paroles has only recommended that a sentence be commuted twice in its history [prior to the Kenneth Foster decision.] In 1998, a recommendation was approved by then-Gov. George W. Bush in the high-profile case of Henry Lee Lucas. And, in 2004, they recommended the execution of paranoid schizophrenic Kelsey Patterson be commuted to life in prison, but Perry refused to grant the commutation.

Take a moment to thank the handful of Democratic legislators who signed letters to Governor Rick Perry urging a halt to the execution of Kenneth Foster, including three from North Texas.

Alma Allen (Houston)
Lon Burnam (Fort Worth)
Harold Dutton (Houston)
Jessica Farrar (Houston)
Helen Giddings (Dallas)
Terri Hodge (Dallas)
Donna Howard (Austin)
Ruth Jones McClendon (San Antonio)
Elliot Naishtat (Austin)
Dora Olivo (Rosenberg)
Eddie Rodriguez (Austin)
Sylvester Turner (Houston)
Mike Villareal (San Antonio)

Update: It's official. Bodicea at Texas Kaos reports that Gov. Perry has commuted Kenneth Foster's sentence to life in prison.
"After carefully considering the facts of this case, along with the recommendations from the Board of Pardons and Paroles, I believe the right and just decision is to commute Foster's sentence from the death penalty to life imprisonment," Gov. Perry said. "I am concerned about Texas law that allows capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously, and it is an issue I think the legislature should examine."
It's time to revisit the "law of parties." And while we're at it, it might be a good time to take a good hard look at the makeup of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

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