The Supreme Court has stopped the pending

execution of Cleve “Sarge” Foster, giving lawyers for the condemned inmate more time to file

their appeals

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

States.

The state

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

execution.

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

protocol.”

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.

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, 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.

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.

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