Netflix has teamed up with Sky Vision for a new docuseries following inmates on death row as they recount their crimes and work to make amends with the families affected, including their own. The first episode investigates the 1996 shooting of Michael Lahood Jr by Maurecio Brown. Kenneth Foster was sentenced to death as an accomplice in the shooting, even after it was proved he never fired a shot. Foster’s case sparked protests demanding his sentence be commuted. something that rarely happens but when it does, exposes the unstable nature and disastrous consequences of the death penalty.
“To sit here and say I didn’t have an opportunity would be wrong” Foster explains as he describes his childhood, his parent’s drug addiction and being brought up by his grandparents. The episode is a collage of recreations, police footage and stories from the victim’s family, the prosecutor, campaigners and Foster’s grandfather. The series has tried its best to stay away from any obvious bias and its balance of stories from both sides gives it an authentic and informative feel without pushing an alternative agenda.
The “pick n’ mix” narrative can seem a little clunky in places and could have been smoother in its transitions between subjects. Some might find I am A Killer a little too similar to other documentary series of the same ilk; covering common themes and with a lengthy account of the night in question that doesn’t engage as much as it should.
What the episode has excelled in is its ability to promote discussion surrounding not only the morality of death row and the controversial Texas Law of Parties but also the question of ethics and what makes somebody culpable. It will leave audiences examining the idea of guilt long after the end of the episode.
Through its efforts to be unbiased the episode can seem, at times to lack conviction and any real direction or cause which limits engagement, unsure as to whether it’s siding with the criminal justice system or challenging it. However, saying that, it does provide some food for thought as well as an in depth look into various case-studies to deliver a personal and thought-provoking look into the American judicial system and death row through the eyes of those on either side of the bars.