On August 14, 1996, Kenneth Foster, DeWayne Dillard, Julius Steen and Mauriceo Brown were ‘club hopping’ their way through San Antonio, Texas.
They’d been drinking, smoking dope and mugging random people on the street for fun, but at the time when everything went wrong they were on their way to the club.
They knew they would eventually end up somewhere, a now-42-year-old Kenneth tells the camera, pulling on his greying beard, struggling to make sense of that night 22 years ago. They just didn’t know where.
For a reason Kenneth says he can’t recall, he drove their white rental Chevy Cavalier down a winding back road of a quiet local neighbourhood. Those who live in the area say it would be impossible to just happen upon that road. There were no clubs there. You had to know where you were going.
Tired of robbing people, they’d made $300 by that stage, the four young men were ready to spend their spoils. Then, they spotted an attractive woman, Mary Patrick, driving down the residential street.
Kenneth says they pulled over in front of the LaHood residence, and a drunk Mauriceo got out of the car to try and pick her up – by the way she was dressed, they assumed she was a prostitute.
Another young man, Micheal LaHood, then appeared at her side. Even though she was holding her own, brushing off Maurico’s advances, Michael told her to go inside where it was safe.
Seconds later, a river of blood ran down the driveway. Michael lay dead in his own driveway, shot in the face at point-blank range.
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Less than a year later, 1997, Mauriceo was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death. He was executed by lethal injection in July, 2006, after spending almost 10 years on death row.
Kenneth, whose only crime was seemingly driving the car that night, was also found guilty of capital murder. By the Law of Parties, which states a person is criminally responsible for an offence committed by the conduct of another if they solicit, encourage, direct, aid or attempt to aid the other persons to commit the offence, he was also sentenced to death, despite never having fired a gun.
Kenneth’s is one of 10 stories told by Netflix’s chilling new show I Am A Killer.
The true crime doco features interviews with inmates currently serving time on death row in the US, having been convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.
While there are countless true crime documentaries out there, many of the best you’ll find on Netflix, I Am A Killer is the only one that’s ever made me feel… sorry for murderers on death row.
These are men who’ve strangled their fellow inmates while they slept, who have shot their ex-partners in the face and murdered men and children as they slept with an axe in the name of the devil.
But because of the way these inmates’ stories are told, I Am Killer had me questioning everything I thought I knew about justice.
Rather than focusing on the who or they why of cases, or asking the viewer to piece together the events for themselves, I Am A Killer simply retells the facts of the cases, but from all sides.
Each episode starts with an interview with the convicted murderer. We hear first hand from them their version of events, how and why they took someone else’s life. Less than 10 minutes into the episode, the viewer is set up to empathise with the killer.
Next come the perspectives of the victim or victims' families. Where you doubt if someone like Kenneth deserves to die for their crime, in their eyes, the death penalty is just.
We also hear from both prosecution and defence lawyers, detectives who worked the cases and the families of the convicted, many of whom feel the justice system has sentenced their brother, father or son unfairly.
All these perspectives make it really difficult to figure out how you're meant to feel about capital punishment. Just when you think you've untangled your feelings about the story into something that makes sense, someone else's testimony shifts your ideas of what's right and wrong.
Finally, each episode ends by circling back to the killer. It's here where you're forced to confront how you felt towards them at the start of the episode, and reconcile that with how you feel at the end.
Some of the stories are cut and dry, and leave you with no doubt about what that person deserves. Others are harder to decipher.
Above all else, I Am A Killer asks you to really consider if taking a person's life is justice served for the life they took themselves. If the death penalty is just, or an easy out.
It's these questions you'll be asking yourself long after the final credits on I Am A Killer roll.
Have you watched I Am A Killer on Netflix yet? Tell us what you thought in the comments!