HB 2267 would require separate trials for co-defendants in capital trials in which the death penalty is sought and would prohibit the state from seeking the death penalty for people who do not kill anyone but are convicted under the Law of Parties. It is fundamentally unfair to sentence someone to death, like Kenneth Foster was, if they did not kill anyone. The death penalty is intended to be reserved for the worst of the worst killers. People who do not themselves kill anyone are not only are they not the worst of the worst, they are not even killers.
The Law of Parties allows people who "should have anticipated" a murder to receive the death penalty for the actions of another person who killed someone. A person sentenced to death under the Law of Parties has not killed anyone. They are accomplices or co-conspirators of one felony, such as robbery, during which another person killed someone. However, in some cases a person can end up on death row under the law of parties even though they did not even know their co-defendant had any intention to hurt or even rob the victim, which is what happened to Kenneth Foster. A person who did not kill anyone, or intend anyone to be killed, should not be executed for the actions of another person.
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"After carefully considering the facts of this case, along with the recommendation 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," Perry said in a statement.
"I am concerned about Texas law that allowed capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously and it is an issue I think the legislature should examine."