Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Update: Fourth time is not the charm

Last night the State of Texas murdered Cleve "Sarge" Foster.

Sarge Foster was an army recruiter and Sheldon Ward was one of the young men he recruited. They became friends and were living together in a motel in Fort Worth back in 2002. One night at a bar, Mr. Foster met Mary Pal. Later that night Ms. Pal was shot and her body dumped in a ditch.

Foster and Ward were charged and convicted, in separate trials, of Ms. Pal's murder. Mr. Ward was convicted for pulling the trigger and Mr. Foster was convicted under Texas' law of parties. The two men were sentenced to death under the theory that Ms. Pal was killed during the commission of a felony - either kidnapping or sexual assault. While there was evidence that Ms. Pal had had sex with both men, the only evidence of a kidnapping came from Mr. Ward's mouth.

Earlier in the day, the US Supreme Court rejected Mr. Foster's request for a stay on the grounds that his representation at trial was so deficient that his case should be reviewed. While the three female justices voted to stay the execution, the six male justices declined.

There were only three people who knew for certain what happened that night back in 2002. But Ms. Pal was murdered and Mr. Ward died in prison from cancer. I have no idea what happened that night. But, if we're going to reserve the death penalty for the worst of the worst - then killing the man who didn't commit the murder is senseless. The law of parties has no business in a capital case - particularly a death penalty case.

So where is Rick Perry and his call for limited government now? Or does that just apply when we're talking about spending money on those less fortunate than ourselves or about regulating businesses?

Once again the state has killed. And once again killing an inmate did nothing to bring anyone back to life. It did nothing to fill the hole in anyone's life. It did nothing to relieve the pain and loss. It's just another dead body chalked up to the might of the state.

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