TX: Cleve Foster faces third execution date tonight
Tue Sep 20, 2011 13:13
Today is third execution date for ex-Army recruiter in 2002 killing Posted Monday, Sep. 19, 20112 BY TIM MADIGAN firstname.lastname@example.org
For the third time this year, former Army recruiter Cleve Foster faces execution tonight for the 2002 killing of a young woman whose body was found in a creek bed near Lake Worth.
The victim, Sudanese immigrant Nyaneur "Mary" Pal, 28, had been raped and shot to death. She was last seen leaving a west Fort Worth pool hall with Foster and his co-defendant, Sheldon Ward.
Both Foster and Ward were also indicted but not tried in the December 2001 killing of Rachel Urnosky, 22, the manager of a clothing store who was found shot to death in her Fort Worth apartment.
Foster has maintained his innocence from the beginning, blaming the crimes on Ward, who died of cancer in prison before he could be executed.
Friday, in another late appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Foster's lawyers cited three letters from Death Row inmates who say that Ward told them that he acted alone in the killings, a Tarrant County prosecutor said.
But the prosecutor, Steve Conder, said Friday that the letters were contradicted by Ward's statements to a psychologist working on his defense.
"Ward told his psychologist that Foster was the one who encouraged him to [kill Pal], it was Foster's idea, and he was very much involved in these murders," Conder said.
Conder also cited testimony that Foster and Ward were both seen following Pal from the pool hall the night before her body was found, and that the DNA of both men were found in the victim.
"To me, the evidence is clear that Foster and Ward acted together in this killing and in the Rachel Urnosky killing," Conder said.
Lawyers for Foster did not return messages Monday.
Urnosky had recently moved to Fort Worth and was engaged to be married. After their arrests for Pal's killing, Foster and Ward were linked to Urnosky's death by ballistics tests that showed she was killed by Ward's weapon.
On Jan. 11, Foster had eaten what was meant to be his final meal in Huntsville when the Supreme Court stayed his execution. The court delayed a second execution date in April.
"After two stays have already been granted, I'm not sure I can give a sense of what's going to happen," Conder said Friday.
For the victims' families, today's execution date is another milestone in an excruciating year.
"The irony is that my daughter didn't get such consideration," Pam Urnosky, the victim's mother, said in April. "I have been so upset. Sickened. I want him to admit he did it, admit his guilt."
In an interview with the Star-Telegram before his April execution date, Foster repeated his innocence claim but said he had made peace with any outcome.
"I'm hoping it don't go through, but I'm ready if it does," he said then. "I've given this to God a long time ago. The bottom line is: Texas is not going to kill me until God is ready for me to die."
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Foster said: "God has tapped me on the shoulder. I'm not afraid."
Foster's execution would be the 11th this year in Texas, the nation's most active death penalty state.
Execution is set for Wednesday for Lawrence Russell Brewer, 44, one of two white men condemned for the notorious dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper County.
This report includes material from The Associated Press.
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