Group Wants Foster Spared

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Amnesty International has asked Gov. Ronnie Musgrove to commute Ronald Chris Foster's death sentence. Foster is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Jan. 8 at the state penitentiary at Parchman.

Foster was 17 when he was convicted of capital murder in the slaying of Lowndes County convenience store clerk George Shelton. The case was tried in Meridian on a change of venue, due to pretrial publicity.

The killing occurred at Hankins Superette on June 10, 1989. Shelton's body was found behind the counter by a customer who contacted authorities. He had been shot in the head.

Foster has claimed in his appeals that it is cruel and unusual punishment to execute those who committed crimes under age 18. The U.S. Supreme Court declined earlier this month to hear his appeal.

Amnesty International USA director, William F. Schulz, says Foster's sentence should be commuted. He cites Foster's youth, concerns about racial disparity in the application of the death penalty in the U.S. and mitigating circumstances in his case.

Assistant Mississippi Attorney General Marvin White says there are plenty of cases that question executing juvenile offenders, so there is no reason to hold up Foster's execution because of one more.