That's the title of Bob Ray Sanders' latest column focusing on the case of Kenneth Foster. It contains the text of Kenneth's letter to Governor Rick Perry. LINK
As Kenneth Foster Jr.'s execution date draws near, I am reminded of the title of Sister Helen Prejean's book Dead Man Walking -- the term that describes a condemned man on his way to the death chamber.
People are working to keep Foster from having to make that journey on Aug. 30 because he did not plan, participate in or anticipate the murder for which he was convicted and sentenced to death.
Last week, a district court in San Antonio denied his subsequent writ for habeas corpus, so now Foster's life is in the hands of Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole.
Mauriceo Brown killed Michael LaHood in San Antonio in 1996 and was executed last year. But under the Texas "law of parties" -- which some legal scholars contend was not intended for this kind of case -- Foster was tried with Brown and given the same verdict and punishment.
At the request of some members of the board of pardons and parole, Foster wrote a letter to Perry. Here is that letter -- at this point, a dead man talking.
Unaware of what I could possibly say that could make a difference, I decided to grasp this opportunity to write to you from my heart, because I believe that God declares for us to live each day to the fullest. While I know that you will be bombarded with letters from people, spoken to by legal representatives and addressed by the media, this is written on a personal basis.
I know that you will have detailed information about my case and the Law of Parties. However, please never forget that although I did not protest when Mauriceo Brown wanted to commit robberies, later I recognized that this was wrong to go along with, and out of respect for my grandfather, I said I had to stop. After I said I wanted to go home, Mauriceo Brown got out of the car to talk to Mary Patrick, and got into an argument with Michael LaHood, which ended with Mauriceo Brown shooting him, of which I had no foreknowledge and would never have permitted, had I known it were going to happen.
I would like to talk from another perspective. What can I say about this death row journey? It has been a curse and a blessing, because as ironic as it may be most humans fear the only thing they are promised at birth and that is death. And as the irony continues, one (here) learns to live by facing death. It's a stunning process. Yet, for each man he experiences something different. ... I could write a book on it and speak volumes to it. But, I will only say that I thank God for allowing me to journey through this keeping my sanity and being anointed with a gift to learn, grow, and pass on positivity.
There's so much that the world doesn't see -- so much that politics will bar, but regardless of it all, a man still has the opportunity to tap into the beauty of humanity and experience that regardless of his outside circumstances. I just wish that you all could see it. I do realize that you feel you have a certain Justice to serve. I've come so far in my journey that I no longer hold spite, because I've been granted an Understanding that is keeping me. ...
I think it's important to tell you that I have tried to use this situation as a transformation process. Everyday I have tried to be an exception to the stigmas and stereotypes. I wanted to show that a man here could be more than his error or labels. And so, as I submitted myself, I found the heart to pray for you and your family, the victim and his family, my co-defendants and their family. I've discovered (and hopefully others will, too,) that the pain, sorrow and compensation is not taken care of through simply saying I'm sorry or through hundreds of executions, rather giving love everyday, helping someone, speaking truth to power -- showing that one man with courage can be a majority. The only Joy I have is in educating, reforming and revitalizing; and if you believe it or not I do this because of you all, not myself. Because if I did anything for me I'd be a wretch, but through you all (those that love me or not,) I've found humanity embracing me. I'm thankful, regardless.
You're a history maker, Governor Perry, and I am a part of your history and I think what happens to me will be a relevant part of history. I wish I could appeal not only to your morale and conscience, but to your soul. I wish we could talk about the last 10 years and everything between. I wish we could view the way each life through this process has been touched. Often the Divine is revealed through the hardest trials and tribulations.
My only plea is that I wish I could live for the sake of my little daughter who will be so deeply wounded to not have her daddy. I do not want to be set free. I want to pay for what I did. I drove a car and let a man rob other people. That is not a capital crime. I allowed Mauriceo Brown to get back in the car. Because of my own blatant shock and disbelief at what had just occurred, I helped him leave a crime scene. That is not a capital crime. I never sought nor desired that Michael LaHood Jr. be killed.
I wrote this letter from the heart, just trying to show you how one can transform, how beauty does persist, how change can come. I prayed different Psalms and Proverbs over this letter. I've passionately spoken all of my request for Forgiveness, Peace, Life, Justice, Freedom, Love, Understanding to The Creator and His Creation. I stand on the Faith knowing that all of the roles we have played in this walk of life will have a greater purpose.
I'm glad to have had this opportunity to speak with you.
Earlier coverage is here.