Attorneys for Lords of Chaos leader get ready for hearing on death sentence

The latest in the ever continuing saga:

Attorneys took a last procedural step Friday before convicted Lords of Chaos ringleader Kevin Foster makes his return to a Lee County courthouse in April.

Attorney Terri Backhus of Tampa argued against the state’s request for e-mails between the late public defender Robert Jacobs and psychiatrists who evaluated Foster before the penalty phase of his trial. He was sentenced to death in 1998 by a 9-3 vote after he and three other Riverdale High School students conspired to kill band director Mark Schwebes.

Of the 11 issues Backhus attempted to bring up in an effort to spare Foster’s life, only one has survived for a hearing – that Foster’s attorneys didn’t do enough research about Foster’s psychiatric makeup in preparation for the penalty phase. The penalty phase is a mini trial where attorneys try to convince a jury to recommend life or death for a person convicted of first-degree murder. The guilt phase is the trial where evidence is presented to prove a person’s guilt.

Backhus argued she’s at a disadvantage because Jacobs is dead and the psychiatrists don’t recall everything they did in evaluating Foster. Plus, she said, she doesn’t know if the e-mails exist. But assistant state attorney Jennifer Gutmore argued anything relevant to the issue should be disclosed.

Lee Circuit Judge Edward Volz Jr. ordered the public defender’s office to dig up any e-mails between Jacobs and the two psychiatrists who treated Foster. Deputy public defender Kathleen Fizgeorge told Volz she doesn’t know how long that would take, but said it would be “quite a big project.” Volz told her to have it done by March 15.

Foster is scheduled to appear in court April 26 for an evidentiary hearing where the state and defense will argue whether his death sentence should stand. He has been on death row for 13 years.

Foster, 33, was a teenager in 1996 when the group’s plan of vandalizing the school the night of April 30 was foiled when Schwebes, 32, caught Christopher Black and gang member wannabe Thomas Torrone loitering. The teacher took their vandalism tools and said he was going to report them at school the next day.

The group drove to Schwebes’ home, where Foster forced Derek Shields to knock on the door. Foster stepped from the shadows and shot Schwebes in the face, then shot Schwebes in the buttocks after he fell. (Published in the Fort Myers News Press 3/4/11; Reported by Pat Gillespie)

“Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—
in peace because they trust in you” ~ Isaiah 26:3

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