The Case of Kenneth Foster: Texas Prepares to Execute Man for Driving a Car Near Scene of Murder (video link)

Dandelion Salad

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Democracy Now!

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Three weeks from today, a 30-year-old African American man on death row in Texas is scheduled to be executed. Kenneth Foster was sentenced to death ten years ago for the murder of Michael LaHood, a white man. The trial judge, the prosecutor, and the jury that sentenced him to die admit he never killed anyone. Foster is scheduled to be executed under a controversial Texan law known as the law of parties. The law imposes the death penalty on anybody involved in a crime where a murder occurred. In Foster’s case he was driving a car with three passengers, one of whom left the car, got into an altercation and shot LaHood dead. We broadcast a rare interview of Kenneth Foster from death row and speak to his family in Texas as well a journalist who has closely followed his case. [includes rush transcript]


Three weeks from today, a 30 year-old African American man on death row in Texas is scheduled to be executed. Kenneth Foster was sentenced to death ten years ago in a San Antonio court for the murder of Michael LaHood, a white man, in 1996. What makes Foster’s case unique is that he didn’t commit or plan the murder. Even the trial judge, the prosecutor, and the jury that sentenced him to die admit he never killed anyone.Foster is scheduled to be executed under a controversial Texan law known as the law of parties. The law imposes the death penalty on anybody involved in a crime where a murder occurred. In Foster’s case he was driving a car with three passengers, one of whom left the car, got into an altercation and shot a Michael LaHood dead. At the time of the shooting, Kenneth Foster was 80 feet away in his car. Since Foster’s original trial, the other passengers have testified that Foster had no idea a shooting was going to take place.

On Tuesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied death row prisoner Kenneth Foster’s final appeal. In a six-to-three decision the appeals court denied Foster’s final writ of habeas corpus. Foster’s last recourse is the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and Texas Governor Rick Perry. According to Foster’s criminal attorney, Keith Hampton, five of the seven board members must recommend clemency in order for Governor Perry to consider granting it. Kenneth Foster’s scheduled execution date is August 30th.

Today, Kenneth Foster’s family joins us from Austin, Texas. His wife, Tasha Narez-Foster, his eleven year old daughter Nydesha Foster and his grandfather Lawrence Foster as well as Bryan McCan from the Save Kenneth Foster Coalition. Here in our firehouse studio we are joined by former KPFT News Director Renee Feltz. Over the last five years she has interviewed more than 20 men and women on Texas Death Row, including Kenneth Foster.

  • Bryan McCann, member of the Save Kenneth Foster campaign and an activist with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.
  • Renee Feltz, former news director at KPFT, Pacifica’s sister station in Houston from 2002 through 2006, where she did extensive coverage of capital punishment in Texas and interviewed more than 20 men and women on Texas Death Row, including Kenneth Foster. She also works with Indymedia in Houston, and now New York, where she is studying investigative reporting at Columbia University.
  • Lawrence Foster, Kenneth Foster’s grandfather
  • Tasha Foster, Kenneth Foster’s wife
  • Nydesha Foster, Kenneth Foster’s 11-year-old daughter

I want to play a clip from an interview with Kenneth Foster conducted by Renee Feltz. She asked him to describe what happened on the night of August 14th, 1996 and whether he had anticipated the shooting.

  • Kenneth Foster, death row prisoner in Texas

Kenneth is also a founding member of the Death Row Inner-Communalist Vanguard Engagement, or DRIVE. DRIVE is a novel social movement organizing against the death penalty as well as the terrible conditions faced by death row prisoners. I want to play a clip from Renee Seltz’s inteview with Foster where he talks about DRIVE.

  • Kenneth Foster, death row prisoner in Texas

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