TX: Cleve Foster loses two decisions in effort to stop ..
Tue Apr 5, 2011 13:58
Death Row inmate loses two decisions in effort to stop execution Posted Monday, Apr. 04, 20111 BY MELODY MCDONALD
Attorneys for Texas Death Row inmate Cleve Foster, convicted in the 2002 rape and murder of a Fort Worth woman, lost two key decisions Monday as they tried to stop his execution.
First, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles refused a petition to commute his sentence to life.
Later, the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin denied an appeal related to the state's use of a new drug for lethal injection.
The attorneys planned to take the matter to the Texas Supreme Court today. Foster's execution is scheduled for 6 p.m. today in Huntsville.
Foster would be the third condemned Texas prisoner executed this year and the first to be administered the new drug.
Also Monday, Foster's attorneys sent a letter to Gov. Rick Perry, asking for a 30-day reprieve to fully litigate and resolve questions about pentobarbital, the new drug Texas plans to use in Foster's execution.
"The use of pentobarbital as a sedative in the lethal injection process is brand new, and is, for all intents and purposes, experimental," Maurie Levin, one of Foster's attorneys, said in her letter to Perry.
"The requested reprieve is in the interest of all who believe in the importance of open government, and the need for Texas to carry out the ultimate task -- the execution of one of our citizens -- in a dignified and lawful manner."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas also called on Perry and the courts to issue a last-minute stay of execution, saying animals have more protection than humans facing lethal injection.
The ACLU pointed out, among other things, that Texas has never assessed whether pentobarbital can or should be used in combination with the other two drugs used in executions and whether it could lead to an excruciatingly painful death.
"The failure of this drug in its intended use would cause everyone's worst surgical nightmare: total paralysis and excruciating pain," said Lisa Graybill, legal director of the ACLU of Texas. "Expert assessment and governmental transparency should be minimum requirements before this new drug protocol is used."
Foster, a former Army recruiter, and his roommate Sheldon Ward were sentenced to death for the murder of Nyaneur Pal, 30, whose body was found in a Tarrant County ditch on Valentine's Day 2002. The two men were also charged but never tried for the death of Rachel Urnosky, 22, at her Fort Worth apartment in December 2001.
Ward died of cancer last year while awaiting execution.
This report includes material from The Associated Press.
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