Aug 132007

Our story starts back on August 14, 1996.

Mauriceo Brown, Kenneth Foster, Julius Steen, and DeWayne Dillard were riding around San Antonio, TX in a car rented and driven by Foster. Sometime around 2am they followed a pair of cars until they pulled into a driveway. Mary Patrick and Michael LaHood confronted the group of men in the car then headed towards LaHood’s house. Mauriceo Brown exited the car and demanded LaHood’s money and car keys. When he refused, Brown pointed his gun at LaHood and ended up shooting him in the face. Brown claims he thought LaHood had a gun as well (he didn’t) and that he shot in self-defense. Mauriceo Brown was executed on July 19, 2006. But that’s not the end of the story.

Kenneth Foster, the guy driving the car is scheduled to be executed in a couple of weeks as well. Why? For the murder of Michael LaHood. Yep, the State of Texas is about to execute a man because a friend of his killed someone. Not only did the friend commit the murder, but no one has ever claimed otherwise. Nor has anyone claimed that Foster had any idea Brown was going to kill anyone. In fact, no evidence points to Foster having any more involvement in the murder other than being the driver before and after LaHood was killed. But Texas is still going to kill him in the name of every citizen of Texas, in retaliation for the murder of someone whose confessed murderer has already been executed.

Miscarriage of justice? Not at all. The system was created to work exactly this way. The lawyer’s call it the “law of parties”. You and I typically call it “guilt by association”. Of course, we just don’t go executing people willy nilly anymore. Not even in Texas. We have a whole system of mandatory appeals, etcetera, etcetera. Kenneth Foster had some appeals. He even won on appeal – a federal district judge found a “fundamental constitutional defect in Foster’s sentence”, in 2005, and ruled that Foster’s jury had not been asked to determine if he had any intent to kill LaHood, and that this failure represented a misapplication of the law. Of coures, Texas doesn’t like having its hanging judges overturned, so they appealed again, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, overturned the decision.

I hope the people of Texas rest a little easier on August 30th, knowing that man has been put to death in return for a murder no one claims he committed.

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