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Facing execution for driving a car

By Bryan McCann | July 6, 2007 | Page 16

THE STATE of Texas plans to execute Kenneth Foster Jr. August 30 for the 1996 murder of Michael LaHood Jr.

What makes Foster's case unique is that he killed no one--and the state of Texas is first to admit this.

How is this possible? Texas' Law of Parties, adopted in 1974, allows prosecutors to hold all those present legally responsible for a crime. Because Foster was driving the car carrying Mauriceo Brown the night Brown shot LaHood, prosecutors were able to try Kenneth as if he was the shooter.

Brown, who was executed in July 2006, admitted to shooting LaHood, but claimed it was in self-defense. He also insisted that Foster, who remained in a car 80 feet away from the shooting with the radio on and windows rolled up, didn't know he had left the car with the gun.

What you can do

The CEDP will hold a July 20 phone/fax blast to Gov. Rick Perry's office. Call 800-252-9600 (Texas callers) or 512-463-1782 (Austin and out of state), and send faxes to 512-463-1849. A rally is planned for July 21 in downtown Austin.

For more information on Kenneth's case and the struggle of Texas death row prisoners against executions and rotten conditions, see the Free Kenneth Foster and DRIVE Movement Web sites.

You can also write Kenneth to voice your support: Kenneth Foster Jr. #999232, Polunsky Unit, 3872 FM 350 South Livingston, TX 77351.


In addition to being railroaded onto death row by the Law of Parties, Kenneth is a founding member of the Death Row Inner-Communalist Vanguard Engagement (DRIVE), a group of brave death row inmates who organize protests for abolition and better living conditions on Texas's death row.

As Kenneth says, "We are neither violent nor passive. We are combative. We are resisters. We are diverse activists, but more than anything else, may we be looked upon as men who embraced the sacredness of life and sought to assert the full measure of their humanity in the face of those that would seek to destroy it."

Last week, Kenneth's criminal lawyer, Keith Hampton, submitted a new appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. If the court refuses to grant Kenneth relief, his supporters will then turn to the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Rick Perry for clemency.

After Kenneth's execution date was announced in May, a broad coalition called the Save Kenneth Foster Campaign was formed. The Austin and Corpus Christi chapters of Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP), along with Kenneth's family and lawyers, as well as other anti-death penalty groups, have been holding weekly meetings to build a movement around this case.

The coalition held a petition and literature table at Austin's Juneteenth festival on June 19. This annual commemoration of emancipation from slavery provided an excellent opportunity to reach out to the community. The coalition got over 200 signatures on the petition to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Texas is on track to perform its 400th execution since 1982 this summer. The case of Kenneth Foster Jr.--a Black man sent to death row for driving a car--is a testament to how rotten Texas's machinery of death truly is.

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