The State of Texas executed Cleve Foster last night. He was put to death for the sexual assault and shooting death of Nyaneur Pal (“Pah”) in Fort Worth in 2002.
His attorneys say he was innocent and didn’t have proper legal defense early on. Foster’s co-defendant, Shelton Ward, died of cancer on death row in 2010.
The Austin Chronicle writes Foster was charged under Texas’ “law of parties,” which stipulates those involved in the commission of a murder can be charged with the crime, even if they didn’t directly participate in the act of murder. Foster claimed he was incapacitated at the time of Pal’s death:
In several statements Ward repeatedly claimed that he alone murdered Pal, but prosecutors have said Ward's statements are inconsistent with the evidence. DNA evidence showed both men had sex with her before her death, but Foster insists he was passed out from sleeping pills and wasn't involved in Pal's killing.
Foster’s execution had been delayed three times before. Last night, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to delay the execution again.
The Associated Press reports Foster “did not proclaim innocence or admit guilt” in the death chamber, but addressed relatives of Pal and Rachel Urnosky, a Fort Worth woman whose murder and sexual assault Foster was suspected of, but never tried. "I don't know what you're going to be feeling tonight. I pray we'll all meet in heaven," Foster said.