CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, August 20, 2007

Getwaway Driver's Execution Draws Near

From Kenneth Foster's supporters say he was up for getting high and robbing a few people on that San Antonio night in 1996 but never anticipated the spree would lead to murder.

He was in a car nearly 90 feet away when one of his partners shot and killed Michael LaHood in what jurors determined was a botched robbery. Barring a last-minute commutation by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Rick Perry, he'll be executed for the crime Aug. 30.

Mr. Foster is one of an estimated 80 Texas death row inmates convicted under the state's "law of parties" – which authorizes capital punishment for accomplices who either intended to kill or "should have anticipated" a murder, regardless of whether they pulled the trigger.

Most states have such laws for many types of crimes, but Texas is the only state to apply it broadly to capital cases. Death penalty opponents decry its use, saying it broadens capital punishment far too much.

Prosecutors argue that all those responsible must be held accountable for such heinous acts.

"But for Mr. Foster driving that car, but for his planning, his decision to engage in this crime, Mr. LaHood would be alive," said Cliff Herberg, a Bexar County first assistant district attorney whose office prosecuted the case. Letting Mr. Foster off the hook "would be like saying the 9/11 hijackers on the plane weren't guilty of anything because they're not the ones who flew it."

Opponents of the death penalty hope the Foster case brings a focus to the issue. They're holding rallies, sending mass e-mails and operating blogs aimed at tearing down the Texas law of parties.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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