June 19, 2012 Source : http://www.star-telegram.com
A former Army recruiter from Fort Worth who was granted three stays of execution in 2011 now has a fourth date: Sept. 25.
State District Judge Sharen Wilson of Fort Worth set the new date this week, according to the Tarrant County district attorney’s office. The announcement came about nine months after Cleve Foster’s scheduled date with death was stayed a third time.
Foster was convicted in 2004 of the rape-slaying of a woman in Fort Worth more than 10 years ago.
Foster has repeatedly claimed that he is innocent and that he received poor legal representation at his trial.
Foster and co-defendant Sheldon Ward were convicted of fatally shooting Nyanuer “Mary” Pal, 30, whose body was found in a ditch by workers in west Fort Worth in February 2002. Ward died in 2010 of brain cancer.
The Supreme Court’s brief order in September 2011 said the reprieve would remain in effect pending the outcome of Foster’s request for a review, known as a petition for a writ of certiorari.
The writ was denied and the reprieve was lifted, clearing the way for a fourth execution date to be set.
In January 2011, Foster won a last-minute reprieve so the justices could further review an appeal in his case. The court later denied a hearing, the reprieve was lifted, and a new date was set.
Then in April 2011, the high court again halted his execution when lawyers sought a rehearing on arguments that he was innocent and had poor legal help at his trial and in early stages of his appeal.
His lawyers returned to the high court with similar arguments that he is innocent and had previous deficient legal help, specifically asking the court to decide whether prisoners like Foster had a constitutional guarantee for a competent lawyer when he first raised claims in a state appeals court.
State lawyers said that the issues had been resolved by the courts, that the Supreme Court has ruled there’s no constitutional right to a competent state-provided lawyer for appeals, and that the last-day appeal was just another attempt to delay Foster’s punishment.
On May 31, 2011, justices declined without comment to hear Foster’s motion for a rehearing, and on June 16, for the third time, Wilson, who presided over Foster’s original 2004 trial, set an execution date.