Supreme Court stops Foster execution in Texas
The Supreme Court has stopped the pending
execution of Cleve “Sarge” Foster, giving lawyers for the condemned inmate more time to file
The justices Tuesday morning issued an order
granting a stay of execution for Foster, about eight hours before
his scheduled lethal injection.
Foster would have become the first convict in Texas 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
has now been given 30 days to respond to Foster’s request for a
rehearing of his appeals. The high court will then revisit the petition,
and could then decide the execution can go forward. The court’s brief
order noted Justice Antonin Scalia would have denied the stay of
Pentobarbital already is used in executions in Ohio and Oklahoma.
This is the second time Foster, 47, has been granted a
reprieve. His scheduled execution was stopped in January after he had
already been given his last meal.
“I’m enormously relieved on behalf of my client and his family, and
I’m glad that the Supreme Court will be looking, at least preliminarily,
at the important issues we’ve raised,” Maurie Levin, representing
Foster, told CNN. “I’m very relieved Texas will not be going forward in
light of all the questions and chaos using their new execution
Levin said she and her legal team were up late filing
their appeals, saying the process was “very emotional.” She said she has
not been able to contact her client.
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.
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, a veteran of the Persian Gulf war of 1991, 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.
murder charge in connection with Urnosky’s killing was dismissed after
Foster was given the death penalty in connection with Pal’s homicide.
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.
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.
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.
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