TX: Execution set today in 2002 Fort Worth slaying
Tue Jan 11, 2011 13:55
Execution set today in 2002 Fort Worth slaying Posted Monday, Jan. 10, 20111 BY TIM MADIGAN email@example.com
Barring a last-minute intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, former Army recruiter Cleve Foster will be executed by injection today for the 2002 rape-slaying in Fort Worth of a Sudanese immigrant.
Citing a new forensic opinion, lawyers for Foster, 47, have asked Supreme Court justices to block the execution. Foster has maintained his innocence in the slaying of Nyanuer "Mary" Pal, 28, blaming the crime on his roommate at the time, Sheldon Ward. Ward, 30, who also received a death sentence in the case, died in prison from a brain tumor last year.
The two were also linked to the death of Rachel Urnosky, 22, a Texas Tech graduate who had moved to North Texas for a job. Two months before Pal's slaying, Urnosky was found dead in her Fort Worth apartment, raped and shot in the head. Ballistic evidence showed that Ward's handgun was used in the killing
Pal's family could not be reached. On Christmas Day, Urnosky's relatives issued a statement in which they "vehemently opposed" Foster's request for clemency, which was turned down Friday by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
"Our lives are forever altered by this premeditated crime against not just our daughter, Rachel, but another young woman, Miss Pal, both in the prime of their young lives," the statement said.
Foster's execution would be the first this year in Texas. Seventeen prisoners were put to death in Texas last year, the fewest since 2001.
Trial testimony showed that Ward, Foster and Pal were regulars at a Fort Worth bar and pool hall and were seen talking together there on Feb. 13, 2002. When Pal drove off that night, a witness said, the two men followed. Pal's body was found in a remote area near Lake Worth.
Prosecutors argued that she had been killed elsewhere and her body dumped where it was found.
Trial evidence included DNA from semen found on Pal's body that matched both Ward's and Foster's. The bullet used to kill Pal also came from Ward's gun. Although Ward tried to take full responsibility for the killing, prosecutors argued that he could not have moved Pal's body without help.
Foster's lawyer, Clint Broden of Dallas, filed a last-ditch appeal with the Supreme Court on Friday, citing a new affidavit from forensic expert Gary Rini of Ohio. Rini said his examination of blood spatter patterns indicate that Pal was killed where her body was found. Those findings undermine a key prosecution theory in the case, Broden said.
"He's raised innocence claims every step of the way," Broden said of Foster.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott argued that it's too late to introduce such findings and that other evidence proved Foster guilty.
"Foster was undoubtedly a participant in this murder," Abbott's filing said. "He offers no credible explanation for how his semen wound up in the victim's vagina."
By late Monday, the Supreme Court had not ruled on Broden's appeal or his request that Foster's execution be delayed.
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TX: Execution set today in 2002 Fort Worth slaying Petra.,Tue Jan 11 13:55
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