But those of us who do this work know that every execution is not equal. Some executions offer up "teachable moments," moments that allow us to focus on a certain case to demonstrate how deeply flawed the death penalty system in the U.S. is.
The scheduled execution of Kenneth Foster Jr. three weeks from today is one of those moments.
Here's the beginning of a Democracy Now report that talks about this case:
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.
To listen to the entire story, go here and click on "listen to segment."
Also, our colleagues over at Amnesty International have been blogging on this case. You can find a good post here.
You can see the web page created to support Foster here (check out the cool you tube video while you're there!)
Finally, go here to take action to save Foster's life. This is NCADP's action alert, which with a couple of clicks allows you to send a message on Foster's behalf.