Kenneth Foster’s supporters say planned to get and rob a few people in San Antonio in 1996 but never anticipated the spree would lead to murder. Foster is scheduled to be executed Aug. 30 for a murder in which he was driving the getaway car but was not the triggerman. The Dallas Morning News says he 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. “But for Mr. Foster driving that car, but for his planning, his decision to engage in this crime, (the victim)would be alive,” said a prosecutor.
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. Foster’s attorney estimates that 20 death row inmates convicted under the law of parties have been put to death in Texas in the last two decades. “It’s a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Bob Van Steenburg, of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. “He should absolutely not be executed.”