Sunday, August 12, 2007


Every time Howling Latina argues with a death penalty proponent against strapping a convicted felon to a gurney and sending him or her to perdition, the phrase "heinous crime" or "worst of the worst" invariable crops up.

Nice talking point but far from reality.

Just last spring, the General Assembly in Virginia passed a bill to extend executions to individuals who didn't kill anyone; and yes, that would include any person in a car with a would-be killer -- even without foreknowledge of an impending murder.

No matter.

Right now, there is a man on death row in Texas who fits this profile. Kenneth Foster, Jr., is going to be executed in 18 days, even though he's not a murderer.

Democracy Now reports:

Foster is scheduled to be executed under a controversial Texan law known as the law of parties. The law imposes the death penalty on anybody involved in a crime where a murder occurred. In Foster's case he was driving a car with three passengers, one of whom left the car, got into an altercation and shot a Michael LaHood dead. At the time of the shooting, Kenneth Foster was 80 feet away in his car. Since Foster's original trial, the other passengers have testified that Foster had no idea a shooting was going to take place.

On Tuesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied death row prisoner Kenneth Foster's final appeal. In a six-to-three decision the appeals court denied Foster's final writ of habeas corpus. Foster's last recourse is the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and Texas Governor Rick Perry. According to Foster's criminal attorney, Keith Hampton, five of the seven board members must recommend clemency in order for Governor Perry to consider granting it. Kenneth Foster's scheduled execution date is August 30th.

Indeed, Mr. Foster illustrates why Gov. Tim Kaine was so right in vetoing the bill that would have dispensed with the triggerman rule; and why the General Assembly was so wrong in trying to expand the number of crimes that give them license to kill. Thank the good Lord, the Senate upheld Kaine's veto.

For the record, Texas has already executed five inmates since June; and five are set to go in August.

What a shameful moral outrage!

Well, here's putting a face next to context; and of course, another person of color on death row leaving loved ones behind. Please click here and e-mail the governor.

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