Thursday, August 02, 2007

Will There Be Mercy for Kenneth Foster?

If you are following the Kenneth Foster case, Bob Ray Sanders has two op-eds on the subject this week. (See here and here.) If you haven't been following it, the Booman Tribune has a fairly succinct summary.

Kevin Foster, you see, was convicted under the "law of the parties" rule in Texas (in other states commonly referred to as the Felony Murder Rule) which makes a defendant liable for murder, even if the victim was killed by another person, and even if the defendant did not intend for the murder to occur, if anyone dies as the result of the commission of a felony. Foster was alleged to have been party to a robbery by Mauriceo Brown, the man who murdered Sean's friend, Michael LaHood, in the driveway of Mr. LaHood's home. Foster claimed no knowledge of the intended robbery, and never left the car in which he drove Mr. Brown and two other men. One of the other passengers in the car, Julius Steen, testified against Mr. Brown and Kenneth Foster in exchange for a lesser sentence. Brown and Steen had committed two other armed robberies earlier in the evening during the time Foster was with them. It was Mr. Steen's testimony which tied Kenneth Foster to the alleged robbery and subsequent murder of Michael LaHood by Mr. Brown. In essence, Kenneth Foster was sentenced to death for not taking a plea bargain before Mr. Steen did.

Sean-Paul Kelley, blogger for The Agonist, makes a very earnest appeal to spare Foster's life. What's remarkable about this diary is that he makes this plea for mercy even though the deceased, Michael LaHood, was Kelley's best friend.
I still remember eating chicken fried steak with him and D-Day--the third and most successful leg of our triumviral friendship--at Maggies at 3:00am after clubbing, back when the three of us attended the local junior college, were obsessed with the opposite sex but too stupid to realize they were just as obsessed with us as we were with them. God how I'd give anything to have him back. Thinking of him brings a tear to my eyes even now. What makes it worse is that I'd returned from living out of the country a few months before he was killed. A new career kept me busy. We kept postponing getting together. My last words to Mike--two weeks before he was murdered--were a cliché for all clichés: "we'll do it next weekend, buddy, we've got all the time in the world." I couldn't hear the clock ticking. I wish I'd listened closer.

And for that I hated Mauriceo and his gang even more, and for a long time. But the execution of a young man who didn't even kill Mike? That's not justice. It's senseless vengeance, a barbarism cloaked in the black robes of justice.
The Texas Moratorium Network has published Foster's letter to Governor Rick Perry. If one takes it on face value, it is a fairly affecting document.
I’ve discovered (and hopefully others will, too,) that the pain, sorrow and compensation is not taken care of through simply saying I’m sorry or through hundreds of executions, rather giving love everyday, helping someone, speaking truth to power - showing that one man with courage can be a majority.
If you agree with that last statement, Sanders' column ends with the following suggestion:

Contact the governor's office or the Texas Board of Pardons and
Paroles to object to the execution of Kenneth Foster Jr.

Gov. Rick Perry
Mail: State Capitol, P.O. Box 12428,
Austin, TX 78711-2428
Telephone: 512-463-2000
Fax: 512-463-1849

Use the form at

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
Mail: P.O. Box 13401, Capitol Station,
Austin, TX 78711

Kenneth Foster is scheduled for execution on August 30th.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you are moved by the case of Kenneth Foster, and if you can get to Austin, we encourage all justice-minded people to come to a rally in support of Kenneth. The rally is on Tuesday, August 21, starting at 5pm. We will gather in front of the Capitol at 11th St. and Congress Ave. and march to the Governor's mansion to make our voices heard. For more information, visit or call 512.584.1578.