At a preliminary hearing in February, the 50-year-old entered a not guilty plea to charges of murder and burglary. At the same hearing, the state expressed its intent to seek the death penalty.
Foster was sentenced to death for the murder of retired school teacher Queen Madge White during a 1986 burglary at her home at Highland Circle — he was 18 at the time. The 79-year-old woman had been hit in the head and face, breaking her jaw, and was molested before being strangled to death.
The re-trial was prompted by his 1987 murder conviction being overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago, on the grounds of black jurors being excluded from his original trial.
Then-district attorney Steve Lanier, who died this year, struck off all four black potential jurors before the trial. By filing an open records request for the prosecutors’ trial notes, Foster’s lawyers discovered notes from an investigator in the DA’s office which the Supreme Court ruled pointed toward the specific exclusion of those jurors based on race.
On June 13, attorneys from the Georgia Public Defender Council representing Foster filed more than 100 motions. Earlier this month, the District Attorney’s Office filed responses to counter each of the motions.
Included in the motions from the defense are calls for the indictment to be dismissed on the grounds of the makeup of the grand jury being unconstitutional; for the state to choose either malice murder or felony murder in charging Foster; and for the imposition of the death penalty and the use of lethal injection for the execution to be deemed unconstitutional. Another motion also seeks the barring of the death penalty as a possible sentencing outcome, on the basis it is “cruel and unjust.”
The hearing is expected to last two days.
Foster is currently being held without bond in Floyd County Jail, which he was moved to from the state’s death row in Jackson in March 2017.