Foster denied clemency over new execution drug
UPDATE: Convicted murderer Cleve Foster, facing execution on Tuesday, was denied a clemency request Monday by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Foster immediately requested a 30-day reprieve from Gov. Rick Perry.
Foster moved closer to becoming the first convict executed under a new lethal-drug procedure that will substitute pentobarbital for sodium thiopental, which officials are no longer able to obtain in the United States.
Additional court appeals are expected.
Pentobarbital already is used in executions in Ohio and Oklahoma.
LIVINGSTON- Time is running out for Cleve “Sarg” Foster who is scheduled to be
executed in Texas on Tuesday, April 5.
Texas will replace one drug
in the three-drug lethal cocktail with a different drug. The new drug is one
to euthanize animals. The 47-year old former Army
tried Friday to get another delay in his death. Foster’s legal efforts to block use of the
drug in his execution, however, were rejected.
Travis County District Court Judge Stephen Yelenosky ruled that the state can use pentobarbital to execute Foster on Tuesday. A shortage of the sedative sodium thiopental prompted the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to announce last month it was switching drugs.
Foster’s attorneys have protested the ruling and plan new appeals. Foster would become the first Texas inmate to be executed with the new drug. The state’s supply of sodium thiopental used in two previous executions this year expired at the end of March.
Foster originally was scheduled for execution on January 11, but after having eaten his last meal and moments before receiving lethal injection, he won a last-minute stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court. The appeal, that cited a confession letter by an accomplice, failed and Foster’s new execution date was set for April 5.
Foster and a friend were found guilty of the Valentine Day, Feb. 14, 2002, abduction, rape and murder of a 28-year old woman in Fort Worth.
He and codefendant, Shelton Aaron Ward, sexually assaulted and shot in the head Nyanuer “Mary” Pal, an immigrant from Sudan. The two men had followed Pal when she left a bar after closing time. Her nude body was found the next morning in a ditch by workers laying pipe.
DNA from both men were found on Pal’s body, according to the court records.
Foster was also charged with the murder of another Fort Worth woman, Rachel Urnosky. That death occurred on Dec. 18, 2001. Both Pal and Urnosky were shot with the same gun surrendered to investigators by Foster.
The murder charge in connection with Urnosky’s killing was dismissed after Foster was given the death penalty in connection with Pal’s homicide.
Ward, who was also convicted of the crime and sentenced to death, died in prison from cancer last year. Before his death, he wrote a letter stating that Foster did not take part in the murders, only he had.
Foster’s efforts to appeal his conviction based on the letter eventually reached as far as the U.S. Supreme Court and temporarily spared him from the scheduled execution on Jan. 11., the first this year.
Meanwhile, two other scheduled executions took place. On Feb. 15 the state executed Michael Wayne Hall. On February 22 Timothy Wayne Adams was put to death using the last of the available sodium thiopental.
If appeals fail Tuesday, Foster, a native of Henderson County, Kentucky, will become the 467th Texas death row inmate to die since the return of the Death Penalty in 1982. He will be the third in 2011.
Since 1999, executions have taken place at the Polunsky Unit of Huntsville State Prison in nearby Livingston, Texas. Death row offenders are housed separately at the unit in single-person cells measuring 60 square feet, with each cell having a window. Offenders on death row receive a regular diet, have access to reading, writing, and legal materials. Most death row offenders are allowed to have a radio.