Reprieves Ran Out for Death Row’s Cleve Foster

     WASHINGTON (CN) – An Army veteran convicted of raping a murdering a woman he met in a bar was executed Tuesday night after the Supreme Court refused to grant him reprieve for the fourth time.
     Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said they would have granted the application for stay of execution.
     Cleve Foster, 48, was one of two men convicted in the February 2002 rape and murder of a woman they met in a bar. An Army veteran, Foster had earned the nickname “Sarge” on Death Row.
     When the 5th Circuit rejected Foster’s appeal in March 2010, it gave a thorough account of the case. The unsigned opinion described how Foster and Sheldon Ward met Nyanuer “Mary” Pal at a bar in Fort Worth, Texas, where all three were regular patrons. Pal and the men left the bar separately, and Pal’s nude body was found eight hours later in a ditch far off a road in Tarrant County. She had been raped and shot in the head.
     As police began investigating the crime, Ward admitted to a friend that he needed a place to say because he had killed someone.
     “Ward told his friend that he followed a girl home from a bar, forced her into a truck at gunpoint, took her out to the country, raped her, and shot her,” the ruling states. “Ward did not mention Foster. The friend stopped the truck at a store and got the police to arrest Ward.”
     Ward eventually confessed having some role in the crime to authorities, but he never implicated Foster, who has maintained his innocence throughout the case.
     Before confessing, Ward wrote Foster a note that apologized for involving him. According to Ward’s testimony, he admitted to having consensual sex with Pal in Foster’s truck and in the hotel room he shared with Foster while Foster was passed out. Ward said he went driving with Pal and next remembers standing over the woman’s dead body with a gun in his hand.
     Foster told authorities Pal voluntarily went to their hotel room and performed oral sex on him as he slept.
     Prosecutors did not find Foster’s story credible, however, since his semen had been in Pal’s vagina. They also said Ward, at 5 foot 6 and 140 pounds, was an inch shorter and just 10 pounds heavier than Pal, so he may have needed help from Foster, who is 6 feet and weighs 225 pounds, to move Pal’s body from the scene of the shooting to the site where her body was found.
     The Supreme Court granted Foster a last-minute stay of execution on Jan. 11, 2011, but it declined to rehear the case a week later.

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