death penalty execution law of parties Texas U.S. Supreme Court

State of Texas Executes Cleve Foster

Last night, September 25, 2012, the State of Texas carried out its ninth execution of the year, putting Cleve “Sarge” Foster to death for the 2002 murder of Nyaneur Pal, known as Mary Pal, in Fort Worth.  Foster, a former army recruiter, was convicted under the Texas Law of Parties. His co-defendant, Sheldon Ward, was acknowledged to be the triggerman.  Ward died of cancer in 2010 while on death row.

The U.S. Supreme Court  declined to stay the execution, although three Justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor) indicated that they would have stopped it.  Last year, the Court stayed Foster’s execution three separate times in order to consider questions about the constitutional right to the effective assistance of habeas counsel and related claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and innocence.

According to the Associated Press (and reposted by CBS Dallas/Fort Worth):

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.

Read more about Foster in the Houston Chronicle (“Texas executes ex-Army recruiter after 3 reprieves”, September 25, 2012).

This was the 30th execution nationwide in 2012.  The State of Texas has scheduled eight additional executions between now and the end of the year, including four in October.