Many of you were among the more than 17,000 outraged citizens who successfully petitioned Texas Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles last year demanding the commutation of the death sentence for Kenneth Foster.
Foster was convicted under Texas’ notorious Law of Parties, under which the distinction between principal actor and accomplice in a crime is abolished. The law can impose the death penalty on anybody involved in a crime where a murder occurred whether a person had anything to do with the murder or not. (Texas is the only state that applies this statute in capital cases, making it the only place in the United States where a person can be factually innocent of murder and still face the death penalty.)
Now, Jeff Wood faces similar straits on Texas death row with an execution date of August 21. Having no prior criminal record, Wood was convicted and sentenced to die for killing a convenience store clerk during a January 1996 robbery in Kerrville, TX under the “Law of Parties.” Wood was not the shooter in this case and he can reasonably claim that he had no idea that a murder would occur during what he says was meant to be a gas station robbery. The actual shooter in this case — Daniel Earl Reneau — was executed by the state of Texas more than six years ago.
Here are the facts:
At approximately 6:00 am on January 2, 1996, while Wood waited outside in a car, Daniel Earl Reneau entered the gas station with a gun and pointed it at Kris Keeran, the clerk standing behind the counter. At some point for some reason Reneau fired one shot with a 22 caliber handgun that struck Keeran between the eyes. Death was almost instantaneous. Continuing with the robbery, Reneau went into the back office and took a safe. When hearing the shot, Wood got out of the car to see what happened. Reneau then ordered Wood, at gun point, to get the surveillance video and to drive the getaway-car. Both men were arrested separately within 24 hours and gave confessions to the police. Wood, however, was forced into interrogation by the police with no attorney present and says he was kept awake the entire time and eventually broke down saying it was a planned robbery. He later revoked this statement.
Click here to ask Governor Perry and the Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute Wood’s sentence and sign an online petition to stop the execution. I happen to be opposed to capital punishment in all instances but from any humane perspective state-sponsored killing of people we know did not commit murder should be way beyond the pale.