Former Army recruiter facing 4th execution date

Associated Press
In this Aug. 29, 2012, photo, convicted killer Cleve Foster speaks from a visiting cage at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Polunsky Unit outside Livingston, Texas.  Foster has received three reprieves from the U.S. Supreme Court, including two last year when he was within hours of execution for the slaying of a 30-year-old woman near Fort Worth in 2000. He is scheduled to die Sept. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Graczyk)
.

View gallery

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Former Army recruiter Cleve Foster went to the U.S. Supreme Court a fourth time, hoping they'd again postpone his execution that's scheduled for Tuesday evening for his role the 2002 shooting death of a Fort Worth woman he and a buddy met at a bar.

Attorneys for Foster, 48, argued he was innocent of the slaying of 30-year-old Nyaneur Pal, a Sudanese immigrant shot in the head and dumped in a ditch on Valentine's Day 2002. Lawyers also contended attorneys at Foster's trial and in early appeals of his conviction and sentence were deficient and his case deserved a closer look.

As the high court considered the arguments, Foster was headed for another trip to a tiny cell steps away from the death chamber. His lethal injection would be the ninth this year in Texas.

"I didn't do it," Foster, maintaining his innocence, told The Associated Press recently from death row. "And if it means I'm going to the gurney and the taking of my life, so be it."

Last year — in January, April and September — the justices stopped his scheduled punishment. Once, he was moments from being led to the death chamber.

Maurie Levin, a University of Texas law professor representing Foster, argued the Supreme Court needed to block it again in light of their ruling earlier this year in an Arizona case that said an inmate who received poor legal assistance should have his case reviewed. But lower courts have said it was a narrow ruling and doesn't apply to all states, Texas among them, because procedures on the books already address the problem.

One federal district judge ruled that even if the Arizona ruling could be applied to Texas, Foster's claims were meritless.

"No court has ever found that his underlying arguments have any merit despite Foster's repeated entreaties and trips through the criminal justice system," Stephen Hoffman, an assistant Texas attorney general, told the Supreme Court.

Foster and a companion, Sheldon Ward, were sentenced to die for killing Pal, who was seen talking with the men at a Fort Worth bar hours before her body was found in a ditch off a Tarrant County road.

"I am as certain of Foster's guilt as I can be without having seen him do it," Ben Leonard, who prosecuted Foster in 2004, said last week. "He lost his innocence claim and the point of law he appeals on now is as arcane as it is unfounded."

A gun in the motel room where Foster and Ward lived was identified as the murder weapon and was matched to an earlier fatal shooting of 22-year-old Rachel Urnosky at her Fort Worth apartment. Foster and Ward were charged but never tried.

Foster blamed Pal's death on Ward, one of his recruits who became a close friend. Prosecutors said evidence showed Foster actively participated in Pal's killing, offered no credible explanations, lied and gave contradictory stories about his sexual activities with her.

The two were convicted separately, Ward as the triggerman and Foster under Texas' law of parties, which makes participants equally culpable. Pal's blood and tissue were found on the weapon and DNA evidence showed both men had sex with her.

At his trial, prosecutors presented evidence Pal wasn't shot where she was found; that Ward alone couldn't have carried her body to where it was dumped; and that since he and Foster were nearly inseparable and DNA showed both had sex with her, it was clear Foster was involved. A Tarrant County jury agreed, and both received the death sentence. Ward died in 2010 of cancer while on death row.

Foster grew up in Henderson, Ky., and spent nearly two decades in the Army. Records showed court martial proceedings were started against the sergeant first class and he was denied re-enlistment after allegations he gave alcohol to underage students as a recruiter in Fort Worth and had sex with an underage potential recruit. He'd been a civilian only a short time when the slayings occurred.

View Comments (42)

Recommended for You

  • Senate fails to override Obama's veto of Keystone XL approval

    By Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate failed on Wednesday to override President Barack Obama's veto of legislation approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, leaving the controversial project to await an administration decision on whether to permit or deny it. The Senate mustered…

    Reuters55 mins ago
  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the…

    AFP
  • France, Cameroon wouldn't take foreigner later shot by LAPD

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A homeless foreigner shot to death by Los Angeles police was in the country illegally after serving time for a bank robbery but couldn't be deported because no country would take him, U.S. immigration authorities said Wednesday.

    Associated Press
  • 175-Pound Pit Bull Hulk Shatters Misconceptions About the Breed

    This dog just may be the world's largest Pit Bull. Only 18-months-old, Hulk weighs a hefty 175 pounds. He's also best friends with a 3-year-old boy.

    ABC News
  • U.S. may review 1959 airplane crash that killed Buddy Holly

    (Reuters) - U.S. transportation safety investigators said on Wednesday they are reviewing a request to reopen a probe into the 1959 airplane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson, better known as "The Big Bopper," and their pilot. The original investigation 56…

    Reuters
  • Former marine reported killed in Syria

    A former Royal Marine has become the first Briton to be killed while fighting with Kurdish forces battling Islamic State jihadists in Syria, leaving his family "devastated" Wednesday. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, died on Monday in a battle with IS militants, a source in the Kurdish People's…

    AFP
  • View

    Turkish jetliner skids off on runway (9 photos)

    A Turkish Airlines jet landing in dense fog in the Nepalese capital Wednesday skidded off a slippery runway but there were no serious injuries, officials said. Officials at Kathmandu's Tribhuwan International Airport said the plane with 238 people on board was coming from Istanbul when the…

    Yahoo News
  • 'Thousands' of Russian troops in east Ukraine: US envoy

    The United States' senior envoy to Europe alleged Wednesday that Russia had deployed "thousands and thousands" of troops to neighboring Ukraine. Speaking to a congressional foreign affairs committee, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland also told US lawmakers that Russia was flooding…

    AFP
  • Mom convicted of killing son, 5, by poisoning him with salt

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A woman who blogged for years about her son's constant health woes was convicted Monday of poisoning him to death by force-feeding heavy concentrations of sodium through his stomach tube.

    Associated Press
  • Iranian president says Israel 'greatest danger'

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said Israel creates the "greatest danger" in the region, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In a speech on Capitol Hill, Netanyahu said Tuesday the nuclear agreement US President…

    AFP
  • Survivor testifies about 2 friends stabbed, bound, drowned

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man who survived being beaten, bound, stabbed in the neck and kicked into the Schuylkill River took the stand in a hearing Tuesday and described the night his two friends lost their lives.

    Associated Press
  • Killers sought in deaths of 300,000 chickens in South Carolina

    By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Revenge may be the motive for the killings in South Carolina of more than 300,000 commercial chickens worth about $1.7 million over the past two weeks, authorities said on Monday. Birds have been found dead of unnatural causes in 16 chicken houses at…

    Reuters
  • Georgia police officer killed in shootout

    By David Beasley ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia police officer was killed in a shootout with a suspect in suburban Atlanta early on Wednesday, authorities said. Officers went to investigate reports of shots in a suburban neighborhood and came under fire about 1:30 a.m. EST, according to the Fulton…

    Reuters
  • Americans Love K-Cups, but Their Creator Regrets Inventing Them

    Now it seems that John Sylvan, the inventor of the tiny containers, is firmly on Team #KillTheKCup too. “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” said Sylvan.

    Takepart.com
  • Marijuana Growers Arrested After Pocket Dialing 911

    Three men in California were arrested Monday night after one of the suspects pocket dialed 911. The emergency operator who took the call heard two of the men talking about the possibility of getting pulled over, leading to a major drug bust.

    KSWB - San Diego
  • Afghan forces kill dozens of militants in hostage rescue operation

    By Sarwar Amani KANDAHAR (Reuters) - Afghan security forces have killed dozens of militants in a military operation aimed at freeing a group of civilian hostages in southern Afghanistan, an army official said on Wednesday. Eyewitnesses said most passengers belonged to the ethnic Hazara minority, a…

    Reuters
  • Father says no proof his son is 'Jihadi John'

    The father of "Jihadi John" said in an interview published Wednesday that there was no proof that his son was the Islamic State executioner, adding there were a number of "false rumours" circulating. "There is nothing that proves what is being circulated in the media, especially through video clips…

    AFP