Monday, August 20, 2007

As Kenneth Foster execution date nears, protests mount

I've already written why I think Governor Perry and the Board of Pardons and Parole should commute Kenneth Foster's death sentence. At this point in the history of death penalty jurisprudence, ill-conceived Texas laws that the Court of Criminal Appeals refuses to interpret fairly threaten to have the US Supreme Court dramatically restrain the state's authority to implement capital punishment.

The state admits Foster did not kill anyone himself. But he soon may die for his unknowing involvement in what happened that unhappy night. (The actual shooter in the incident was executed last year.)

I've argued that Governor Perry and the Parole Board should not commute the sentence because they oppose capital punishment (they don't), but because they support it and don't want their authority to implement it whittled away. That's not quite the same argument put forward by most opponents of Foster's execution, but for Rick Perry and Rissie Owens I think it could resonate. It's really true - I don't know how much longer Texas' implementation of capital punishment can remain as sloppy and callous as we do it right now. At the end of the day I don't think the US Supreme Court will stand for it.

I received an email yesterday asking me to notify folks of a protest urging the Governor to save Foster tomorrow (Tuesday) in front of the state capital building. Normally I'm not a great fan of protest politics, but at this point it's all that's left to do. Here are the detail of tomorrow's event:
Call to Action from the Save Kenneth Foster Campaign

With Kenneth's execution date approaching fast, it is crucial for us all to tell the State of Texas to do the right thing and STOP THIS EXECUTION!

To our allies in Austin and throughout Texas,

Though the State admits he did not kill anyone, Kenneth Foster Jr still faces execution on August 30th. His crime? Being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Kenneth has used the eleven years he has spent on Texas' infamous death row using his case to educate people and build a movement for justice and freedome, not only for those in prison but for all of us that live with the spectre of the prison-industrial complex. He's been fighting for all of us. Now he needs us to fight for him. His life depends on it.

Can anyone do anything to stop this execution? Yes, we can stop this execution and and we will. How? People all over the Texas, the US, and the world have called for clemency already. All we need now is for you to join them in their calls to save this young man's life. Your voice is needed and will make a difference.

Join us Tuesday:

5:00 PM

We will meet and march to the Governor's Mansion with the message: "Justice must prevail. Stop the execution of Kenneth Foster Jr."

See you there.

Stefanie Collins
Save Kenneth Foster Campaign


Anonymous said...

Scott, could you provide details of what Mr. Foster was involved in, the night that the INNOCENT VICTIM was murdered. Like ALL the crimes he was a party to prior to the murder of someone in their own driveway. Give the details, not a dissertation about an "innocent victim" as you portray Mr. Foster. He knew what could happen when you rob several people at gun point during a crime spree! Personally, I know the thought of 30,40,50 or more years in prison until natural death, would be more of a deterrent to crime than the death penalty.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

It's all in the links, and I don't think you'll find the quote "innocent victim" in my portrayal of Mr. Foster - those are your words and stereotypes, they don't reflect my views so I don't feel compelled to defend them.

Be sure to see my own column on the Foster case if you'd like to critique my position - this blog post just reprinted an email from an activist. See also the links in that story - they provide all the background information you're asking for. best,

Anonymous said...

Waaaaaaah. Waaaaaaaah. Those dissenting twits on the CCA--what squeamish maroons. Since when do we have to take the word of a bunch of criminals (who were intoxicated at the time)? All you need in this case is a little common sense.

1) Foster was the driver. They were following Patrick (who was following LaHood). Does ANYONE believe the story that these guys decided to stop their spree, got lost, and decided to follow someone? I mean, I know you guys are gullible (as the Lonnie Johnson stuff proved), but this story could fertize the entire state of Texas with some left over for Oklahoma.

2) I find appalling--absolutely appalling--some of the sick undertones about the role of Mary Patrick in this case. Remember, she did not ask to be followed. Nor is it at all likely that she "flirted" with these thugs (most women don't flirt with a car full of strange guys who were following them in view of their boyfriend). The references to her being "scantily clad" and a "stripper" (on at least one pro-Foster website) are way too close to the "she asked for it" rationalization.

3) Everyone knows that Brown's story about LaHood having a gun is bullshit. Therefore, we really don't have to believe the story about him trying to get Patrick's number. Which leaves only one possibility--namely that Brown was going to rob LaHood. Which means, of course, that in order to believe Foster, we'd have to believe that Foster was following Patrick with no evil purpose (yeah right) and Brown just acted on his own. But how likely is that? We have Foster following, and Brown attacking. Kinda similar to what happened before. Seems to me that the jury figured it all out, notwithstanding what the squeamish wusses on the CCA had to say.

4) Foster deserves to die for his crime. It's that simple. But for his decisions to drive around an armed thug who stuck guns in people's faces, LaHood would be alive today.

Anonymous said...

Texans scare me. Kenneth Foster should not be freed, he is in no way innocent, BUT he did NOT kill anyone. I have said before, if you are going to start killing people just because they MIGHT or SHOULD have known that an associate was about to harm someone else, then start with your Governor and work your way down.

Anonymous said...

Kenneth Foster's situation is a horrible example of everything that is wrong with the Texas criminal justice system.

I sincerely hope a better answer can be found because everyone agrees he did not kill. How can it possible be legal to kill him?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@11:15 - Since your argument consists of insults, speculation, supposition, and dismissal of any testimony you don't like, it's futile to respond in any detail except to ask, who is Lonnie Johnson? I searched and I've never mentioned him on the blog, so I don't know what about him makes me gullible.

Also, if one of the accomplices were a snitch testifying against Foster, I'll bet you wouldn't dismiss the testimony because it was from a "criminal," you'd gladly hang your hat on it.

The CCA minority came to the only conclusion possible from the evidence. The majority avoided that conclusion by refusing to examine the evidence. Foster is not guiltless, but IMO the capital murder charge doesn't stand up. The state has already killed the man responsible for Patrick's murder.

Anonymous said...

This is such a sad story. I'm behing Kenneth and his supporters all the way. Yes, he committed a crime and, yes, he should pay for it but it still stands that he did not pull the trigger or even touch the gun. He did not kill Michael Lahood so how can the the dealth penalty possibly be deserved? Madness. God Bless America, because it seems you sure need all the blessings you can get with Governors like that!

bob s said...

This is another example of the mean-spirited nature of the Texas justice system. It’s even worse than the “lock ‘em and throw away the key” philosophy. Here, the record is clear. There was no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that this man actually murdered anyone.

You should not have to prove your innocence to live. Even the EU has stepped in and written Perry a letter urging a reexamination of the death penalty. And, it couldn’t have come at a better time than at a time we approach the 400th execution since 1982.

Anonymous said...

Grits, a jury does not have to believe the statements of the co-conspirators disclaiming the conspiracy. It's enough to know that Foster was driving the car, knowing that Brown was armed and sticking guns in people's face.

I won't go into the folly of the "triggerman" argument, i.e., only the "triggerman" is the one that killed someone. The model penal code deals with this issue quite well. I would note, however, that Foster was the driver following Patrick's car, and then he wants to pull the "babe in the woods routine". The jury didn't buy it. Too bad.


Gritsforbreakfast said...

B - that kind of hubris, as I argued previously, in my view is what will ultimately cause the Supreme Court to impose a moratorium in Texas. Enjoy your self righteousness (and I can tell you do), and be sure to remember how fun it was to be so cavalier on the day the courts take away the privilege of imposing the death penalty because Texas won't implement it fairly. best,

Anonymous said...

It's not self-righteousness, it's just plain simplicity. These guys were all out robbing. The attempted robbery of LaHood was part of it. Simple and easy. Basic felony murder. Where's the issue?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Simple and easy if you ignore evidence that disagrees with you and make every assumption possible to the detriment of the defendant. Do that and every case is simple and easy. Seeking justice in real life is more complex.

Anonymous said...

Grits, do you even believe this bs story by these guys? Why was Foster following Patrick? Do you think she was flirting with them? Do you think that Brown, an obviously liar, who claimed that he thought LaHood had a gun?

As for arrogance, I don't know. We can all agree that but for Foster's assistance, LaHood would be alive. We can all agree that these guys were out jacking people with a gun. I just don't see how a person, with a straight face, can say, yeah, we were out jacking people, but when we were following Ms. Patrick, we decided to stop the nonsense, and we would have just gone on our way, had she not flagged us down to flirt with us.

Talk about bullshit stories.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Here's the problem - what I or you believe from the media accounts isn't what matters, and I think you know it. The CCA judges NEVER side with defendants. When three of them say they think there's evidence of actual innocence, I think in the current climate, with so many exonerations occurring, you have to let that evidence be evaluated. The majority just said, we never get to the evidence because of a procedural question. That's not good enough when implementing the death penalty, IMO.

My issue with the death penalty isn't that I don't think some people need killing, but I don't trust that the state is competent to decide who's worthy to die, nor, necessarily, anonymous blog commenters. Best,

Anonymous said...

I notice you cannot answer my questions, but no matter.

Bottom line, Foster will likely be executed, and no one, other than a few true believers is going to give a flying f _ _ _ at a rolling donut.

Think about all the others. For example, Gary Graham. No one cares about him, now do they? At the end of the day, Foster helped a guy stick a gun in people's faces and on the third or fourth try, the gun was fired. Hard to feel sorry for him; hard to get worked up about it either. The world will be a better place once this asshole is removed from it. Take a peek at his little website. You'll note words about how he's sorry for LaHood, but then there are arguments about Brown defending himself. I mean, are you f-ing kidding me? LaHood, it must be remembered, WAS MINDING HIS OWN BUSINESS, when approached by this animal, Mauriceo Brown. So why is Foster making these claims? Because he is an evil son-of-a-bitch. Personally, I hope the chemicals burn him. The bastard.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I'm not here to answer your questions. I can't judge the facts from the media nor certainly from your skewed, angry account, and I've given my reasons for thinking the case deserves review.

Comments like "I hope the chemicals burn him" tell me you care about revenge more than justice. Since that's the case, I fear Foster's death will bring you no peace. But then, you seem to relish your anger. Either way I'm sorry if this case was personal for you. But with respect you seem to be battling your own demons here, not disagreeing with anything I've written. best,

Anonymous said...

That's right, anyone who challenges bullshit pleas on behalf of capital murderers is battling his own demons.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No, anyone who must uses so much angry, profanity laced prose is likely battling their own demons. I'm not a lawyer. As I've said, I can't judge the facts of the case from what I know from media accounts. Unless you have insider knowledge you're not revealing, neither can you. The CCA judges who did look at the full set of facts disagreed with you. best,

Anonymous said...


This wasn't charged under felony murder, by the way.


protest politics, man? Come on, now. We've been doing so much more than the tired "lets have a rally" approach to activism that has so often provided the model in this town. This has a been overwhelmingly a grassroots education campaign. We weren't "building for the rallies" as much as building to save Kenneth, and everything we did fit into that strategy, including the protests, which were the exception instead of the rule.

Thanks so much for posting this. The action today was incredible.

Stefanie Collins
Save Kenneth Foster Campaign

Anonymous said...

Whatever. He's likely going to get the big jab, and then no one will care, and justice will have been done.

But for his help, LaHood would be alive. Try as you might, that fact is unassailable. He participated knowingly in a scheme where people got guns stuck in their faces. And you guys rely on the killers' story to argue that the conspiracy was over.

True believers.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

So the shooter wouldn't have shot anyone or stuck a gun in anyone's face if Foster hadn't driven him around? Why would you think that? It's a pretty silly idea. I think that kind of person would have committed robberies regardless of who is his wheelman.

And all your crap about "true believers," etc., is just silliness - what do you think I believe in? Truly? You've got a bunch of stereotypes you apparently like to trot out, but no substance beyond name calling and bilious remarks, plus unprovable assertions about people's mindsets that you cannot know. At this point this conversation has moved beyond any productive stage, I'm afraid, if that's all you've got.

And thanks, Stefanie, for the note. I'm glad the action went well.

Anonymous said...

Grits, legally speaking, Foster was a cause in fact of LaHood's death. It's really that simple.

As for "unprovable" assertions, you're right, they are "unprovable", but so what? Juries figure out mental states with indirect evidence all the time. Brown said that he didn't mean to shoot LaHood. Is it provable that he did mean to do it--I guess not in a scientific sense. But we know that the story is crap.

I draw conclusions about people who swallow facially unbelievable stories of criminals with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

And by the way, speaking of silly, the argument that Brown "would have done it anyway" as an excuse for Foster is beyond silly. Beyond silly. Try that one in court . . . .

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Stefanie, I think statements like this one lifted from the "Free Kenneth" website justify the "true believer" remark:

"He is paying far too dear a price for simply being reluctant to object to the conduct of others much earlier in the evening."

I won't go into the smears of Mary Patrick or the BS about LaHood carrying a gun.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

If you're on the jury it doesn't matter what they try in court. You'd fry anybody that was accused, to judge by your comments.

Foster is responsible for his own actions, but to say he's guilty of capital murder requires leaping to conclusions. The CCA majority and you are all too willing to leap, obviously, however far necessary. I don't understand the reasons for such unbridled bloodlust, but it has little to do with justice, certainly justice "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Anonymous said...

Gee, guy drives three other men around town looking for victims. Guy knows that guy actually doing the robbing has a gun. On the third or fourth time, guy with gun shoots someone in course of a robbery.

Capital murder on those facts. No problem. None whatsover.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I'm glad you're satisfied. You've convinced yourself. Congratulations.

Ricky said...

I agree with the previous post. I love Grits for the informative writing, but I hate it when we get on this death penalty, free Antwan Muhammad Tali or whatever Muslim name he acquired while sitting on death row.

Foster is a muderer. Just today, I blogged about this very killer. Then I see this post.

Hopefully he will be executed on August 30th.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Who called for freeing anyone?

Anonymous said...

By going through with the Foster execution, I am certain that we weaken Texas' ability to punish capital offenses in the future. You have to know that the US Supreme Court is going to have a look at this, and when they decide that Texas has taken the "law of parties" statute too far, they will provide us with their own interpretation.

Can we live with a criminal like Foster getting away with being a party to a crime that resulted in murder, if it might save the rights of Texans to punish capital offenders in the future? Can we sleep nights knowing he "only" received a life sentence with no possibility of parole?

If it means preserving our right to punish more willing participants in capital cases, I think we must.

Nae said...

It was my understanding that the death penalty is for the worst of the worst and the most hanis criminals/murders. Kenneth did not murder anyone!! Did you ever think what if Kenneth was telling the truth and really didn't know that Brown was going to commit a murder. If you could know that what he is saying is actually the truth would you still want Kenneth executed, somehow I think Anonymous would.
In one of Kenneth's interviews he said you have to be for the Death Penalty or against it, not for it with the exception of his case. I have always been pro death because I try and put myself in other people’s shoes. If my kids or relatives were murdered I would want that murder to pay with his life with out a doubt. But... if this death penalty is being misused as in this case. I can no longer be for it. “Law of Parties” is not why Texans approved the Death Penalty.
I see that this anonymous person is so angry. It is sad that someone can be so hateful towards another human being to wish such ugly things upon them. Please know that if Kenneth is executed people with care. Lots of people will care and continue to fight against “Law of Parties” in his name.

I will keep Kenneth and anonymous in the same prayer tonight.

Anonymous said...

I'm not one that usually shouts foul language but people like "anonymous" fucking piss me off to the very end! Please bleep me if necessary ;)

I certainly don't think Mr. Foster is innocent or that he should be freed by any means...but he does not deserve to be killed. He doesn't deserve death because did not kill anyone himself...simple! Seeing that "anonymous" seems to love simplicity so much.

In any other state other than Texas in the US he would not be executed for his participation in this crime. No human being has the God given right to kill anyone who did not actually kill someone by his own hand.

So..."anonymous" while your out there playing God with your self righteous thoughts (I doubt, you've got the balls for action) I am actively doing my part in my fighting for equal rights for all human beings. That includes pathetic simple minded people such as yourself.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that Kenneth should be free but I don't believe he should be put to death for another man's actions. How was he to know or control the man who did actually murder? My prayers are with both families. In the Bible it says "an Eye for an Eye" Not TWO eyes for an eye. I pray that God will help Perry to make the right choice....Pardon Kenneth Foster!

Anonymous said...

Texas made a huge step today! they will not kill Kenneth!! Thank the Lord!

peter said...

I am very happy too. The next step is to impeach Sharon Keller. When this lady is not removed there will be no justice in Texas.

Anonymous said...

texas loves the death penalty especially when the defendant is black they love killing black men and women their is no justice for my people well at least we know where we're going when we leave this world white people are the most evil people in the whole united states if god can forgive why can't you oh i forgot you don'nt care for black people the crimminal justice system is design for black men and most of the jurors are all white so a black person don't have a fighting chance well white people can't help themselves you are breed from birth to hate someone that dose'nt look like you and you fill that you are the only one that should be on this earth it is you people who created the death penalty who died and made you god you did not make your self or anyone els so you have no right to determine who should live or who should die that is not your calling the justice system are not the laws of god but the laws of the white man