Kenneth Foster Sr in 2007 after hearing the news that his son
Kenneth Foster Jr’s death sentence was just commuted to life
by Governor Rick Perry

Today, Tuesday March 29, the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence will hear testimony on two bills that would require separate trials in death penalty cases. HB 2200 was filed by State Rep Borris Miles to require separate trials. HB 2511 was filed by State Rep Harold Dutton. In addition to the separate trials requirement, Dutton’s HB 2511 also contains a provision prohibiting death sentences in Law of Parties cases.

The issue of separate trials arose after Governor Rick Perry commuted the death sentence of Kenneth Foster, Jr in 2007. At the time, Perry cited the fact that Foster had been tried together with his co-defendant as a reason for his decision to commute the death sentence. Rep Dutton has also filed HB 855 that would prohibit death sentences in Law of Parties cases. It will also be heard on Tuesday.

Below is the statement Perry issued on the day of the commutation in 2007:

Governor Rick Perry Commutes Death Sentence

Thursday, August 30, 2007  •  Press Release
AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today commuted the death sentence of Kenneth Eugene Foster of San Antonio to life imprisonment after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (TBPP) recommended such action.

On May 6, 1997, Foster was sentenced to death for his role in the 1996 capital murder of Michael LaHood. Foster sought to have his death sentence commuted to a life sentence arguing that he did not shoot the victim, but merely drove the car in which that the actual killer was riding. In addition, Foster was tried along side the actual killer, Maurecio Brown, and the jury that convicted Foster also considered punishment for both him and his co-defendant in the same proceeding.
“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.”
The TBPP voted 6-1 to recommend commutation, and the governor signed the commutation papers Thursday morning.
The governor’s action means Foster’s sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment as soon as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice can process this change.
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