A death row inmate charged with the murder of a Texas Tech graduate is scheduled to die by lethal injection tonight. Cleve Foster, 47, was denied a last minute appeal Monday to change his sentence to life in prison.
Foster, 47, was convicted by a jury in the 2002 rape and murder of Mary Pal in Fort Worth. Experts linked the gun used in Pal's death to the murder of Lubbock native Rachel Urnosky, 22. Foster was charged in Urnosky's murder but never convicted.
Foster's execution marks the third this year in Texas, but will be the first to use a new combination of drugs for the lethal injection.
Foster's lawyers filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice saying they ignored a public review process before replacing one of the three drugs used with Pentobarbital.
"It is the gravest task that we carry out, the execution of one of our citizens, and what we're asking is that TDCJ follow the law," said Maurie Levin, Foster's Co-Counsel. "It's about holding state officials who work for us accountable. Those principles of open government are essential to democracy. We can't apply them selectively."
A state judge rejected the lawsuit, and Monday the 3rd Texas Court of Appeals in Austin upheld the ruling.
Pentobarbital is commonly used to euthanize animals and as an anesthetic for people. "All barbiturates act the same way so Sodium Thiopental that was used previously for executions is a barbiturate just like Pentobarbital," said Gary Schwede, Acres North Veterinarian.
The reason for the drug swap came after a nation-wide shortage of Sodium Thiopental, one of three drugs used for the lethal injections. "Drug companies have elected not to produce it because of a lot of pressure they've been receiving because it has been used in euthanasia," said Schwede.
Schwede says the two drugs are very similar and work the same way.
While Foster says he doesn't want to be a guinea pig for the new drug cocktail, Pentobarbital is already being used in Ohio and Oklahoma executions.
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