I've just learned from a reporter that Governor Perry has announced his commutation of Kenneth Foster's death sentence. I'll update with details shortly.
Governor Perry's statement is here.
AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today commuted the death sentence of Kenneth Eugene Foster of San Antonio to life imprisonment after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (TBPP) recommended such action.
On May 6, 1997, Foster was sentenced to death for his role in the 1996 capital murder of Michael LaHood. Foster sought to have his death sentence commuted to a life sentence arguing that he did not shoot the victim, but merely drove the car in which that the actual killer was riding. In addition, Foster was tried along side the actual killer, Maurecio Brown, and the jury that convicted Foster also considered punishment for both him and his co-defendant in the same proceeding.
“After carefully considering the facts of this case, along with the recommendations from the Board of Pardons and Paroles, I believe the right and just decision is to commute Foster’s sentence from the death penalty to life imprisonment,” Gov. Perry said. “I am concerned about Texas law that allows capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously, and it is an issue I think the legislature should examine.”
The TBPP voted 6-1 to recommend commutation, and the governor signed the commutation papers Thursday morning.
The governor’s action means Foster’s sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment as soon as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice can process this change.
Lisa Sandberg has, "Perry spares inmate set to die today," on the Houston Chronicle website. I'll have full coverage tomorrow morning.
Gov. Rick Perry offered a rare reprieve today to a death row inmate who was sentenced to die for a killing he did not personally carry out.
Six hours before Kenneth Foster was scheduled to die, Perry accepted a recommendation from the state board of pardon and paroles and commuted Foster's death sentence to life in prison.
In a statement, Perry said he arrived at "the right and just decision" after carefully reviewing the facts and after considering the board's 6-1 recommendation, which was issued earlier this morning.
Foster, a former gang member from San Antonio, was sentenced to die for being an accessory to the murder of 25-year-old law student Michael LaHood Jr., who was killed in 1996 at age 25. Foster, who was then 19, was the getaway driver in a car some 80 feet away from where one of his buddies shot and killed LaHood during a botched robbery.
Perry specifically cited the fact that Foster was tried, convicted and sentenced directly alongside the triggerman, which could have tainted the jury's punishment choice.