For only the third time, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has commuted the death sentence of an inmate to life imprisonment, as recommended by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, reports the Houston Chronicle. The move came an hour after the equally rare recommendation, on the day that Kenneth Foster Jr., 30, was scheduled to die for the 1996 slaying of Michael LaHood Jr., 25, the son of a San Antonio attorney.
Invoking a statute known as the law of parties, prosecutors had argued that Foster – the getaway driver in a robbery spree – conspired with a friend to rob LaHood and therefore was culpable for his murder. The case had drawn international attention in recent weeks. Foster’s supporters were ecstatic, but the victim’s brother said that Perry had “folded to political pressure” and that the outcome “sends the wrong message to any accomplice or driver in a crime.”