Three decades after a Bay County murder, family waits for justice

By: Meredith TerHaar Email
By: Meredith TerHaar Email

The average convicted murderer spends 12 and a half years on Florida's death row before he's executed. Charles Kenny Foster has been there for nearly three times that length, and his victim's family says that is long enough. Foster was convicted of killing Ohio resident Julian Lanier on July 15th, 1975, 34 years ago Wednesday.

In the summer of 1975, 65-year-old Julian Lanier decided to vacation in Bay County, driving a motor home from Ohio to visit family. On the night of July 15th, he went to the old Bay Shore Bar on the corner of Beach Drive and Harrison Avenue in downtown Panama City, where he met Charles Kenneth Foster. The two spent the night drinking, met two young women, and the four took Lanier's motor home to a wooded area east of Callaway to party. That's when Foster snapped, attacking Lanier.

"He got beat, stabbed, got his throat cut in two and then they drug him into the woods. They burried him but he was still breathing so the guy just reached down and cut his spinal cord in two. And they want mercy about how they die. Well where's the mercy for the victim and the victim's family?" asks Julia Austin, Lanier's daughter. For most of her adult life, Julia Austin has waited for the state of Florida to deliever justice for her father's murder.

But at 34 years, Charles Kenneth Foster is one of the longest serving inmates on Florida's death row. "If it had happened here in Ohio they would have been done with it years ago. I don't know what is wrong with the state of Florida to allow this creep to live. I lived and worked in Florida. I paid taxes so this creep could live" says Austin.

Foster has been to appeals court more than once, in fact he has been sentenced to death three times. He claims he has mental problems and should not be put to death. The courts have disagreed. But the state still has not set a date for Foster's execution. Austin has contacted Governor Crist several times to plead her cause. "They tell us we are supposed to send e-mails. I am tired of sending e-mails." She says all Crist has to do is sign the death warrant. "What's keeping him from picking up that pen. I'll go down and pick up the pen for him."


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