For the second time this year, Texas death row inmate Cleve Foster got a stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court, a surprising move that means he is no longer the first in line to receive the state’s new execution drug, reports the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Foster, 47, a former Army recruiter nicknamed “Sarge,” was scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. yesterday for the 2002 rape and slaying of Nyaneur “Mary” Pal in Fort Worth. Foster was also charged, but never tried, in another murder, which factored into jurors’ decision to sentence Foster to death.
The court’s decision was based on Foster’s claims of innocence and inadequate legal help. “It’s surprising,” said Steve Conder, an appellate lawyer with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office. “It’s the first time I have seen it [an execution stopped twice by the U.S. Supreme Court].” The latest turn of events again left the victims’ families devastated and Foster’s family elated. The mother of one of the murder victims said of the latest development, “We are devastated, heartbroken and disappointed in the judicial system.”