For immediate release: February 22, 2009
Contact: Scott Cobb, President, Texas Moratorium Network, 512-552-4743
Advocates to Hold Press Conference Tuesday, Feb 24, on Ending Death Penalty Sentences Under Texas' Law of Parties
A press conference will be held at the Texas Capitol in the House Speaker's Committee Room (2W.6) on Tuesday, February 24 at 12:30 PM by advocates for an end to the death penalty for people convicted under Texas' Law of Parties. State Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston has filed HB 304, which would prohibit prosecutors from seeking the death penalty in the future under the Law of Parties.
The Law of Parties can currently be used to sentence people to death even though they did not actually kill or intend anyone to be killed. Speakers at the press conference will include representatives of Kenneth Foster, jr and Jeff Wood, both of whom were sentenced to death under the Law of Parties even though neither of them killed anyone. Foster's death sentence was commuted to life in prison on August 30, 2007 by Governor Perry. Wood remains on death row after receiving a last-minute stay of execution from a federal judge on August 21, 2008, so that his mental health could be evaluated. In both the Foster and Wood cases, the actual killers have already been executed by Texas.
What: Press Conference on Ending Death Penalty Sentences Under the Law of Parties
Where: The Texas Capitol in the House Speaker's Committee Room, 2W.6
When: 12:30 PM on Tuesday, February 24
Speakers include Rep Harold Dutton and family members of Kenneth Foster and Jeff Wood, including Lawrence Foster and Kenneth Foster Sr.
"No one should be put to death for a murder committed by someone else. The death penalty should certainly not be used for people who do not actually kill anyone. While most people in Texas may still support the death penalty, I am quite sure that even most people who support the death penalty only want it used for the worst of the worst murderers and not for people who do not actually kill anyone. Dutton's bill would eliminate the death penalty sentencing option for people convicted under the Law of Parties, but it would still allow people who play lesser roles in a case to be convicted and sentenced to prison under the Law of Parties," said Scott Cobb of Texas Moratorium Network.
"The Texas Law of Parties gives prosecutors far too much discretion in seeking the death penalty by expanding it to those who did not even commit a murder. As we have learned in cases like Kenneth Foster and Jeff Wood, the law unfairly effects those who were in the wrong place at the wrong time or on the losing end of a plea deal. The Texas Legislature should do the right thing and pass Representative Dutton's bill," said Bryan McCann of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and the Save Kenneth Foster Campaign.
Sponsored by Texas Moratorium Network, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, and Texas Students Against the Death Penalty.
For more information on the case of Kenneth Foster, visit www.freekenneth.com.
For more information on the case of visit www.savejeffwood.com.