Calls from South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former President Jimmy Carter to spare the life of Death Row inmate Kenneth Foster Jr. are likely to receive similar dismissals.
But Perry and the state Board of Pardons and Paroles should be listening to what Texans say when it comes to today’s scheduled execution by lethal injection of Foster, who did not fire the gun that ended Michael LaHood’s life that Aug. 15, 1996, night in San Antonio.
Thirteen members of the Texas House petitioned Perry and the board to commute Foster’s sentence to life without parole.
Those voices — those of legislators who, in the words of their Aug. 23 letter, “are responsible for making the laws of the State of Texas” and “also assume responsibility for protecting our system of justice from mistakes” — argued that the execution of Foster “is just wrong.”
No one who has read the case file can argue that Foster is a complete innocent. He was driving the car that carried the triggerman, Mauriceo Brown, who was executed in 2006 for killing LaHood. Foster was present earlier in the evening when Brown and two other men committed two robberies.
Prosecutors in this case used the state’s “law of parties” statutes to hold Foster criminally responsible for the actions of another. Under Section 7.02(b) of the state penal code, if two or more “conspirators” agree to commit a crime and in the process commit another, each conspirator is guilty of the crime committed if the crime was “one that should have been anticipated.”
Foster deserves to spend a long, long time — if not the rest of his life — behind bars for what he did do that night. But he does not deserve to die — not today, not at the hands of a state executioner.