The U.S. Supreme Court blocked Tuesday night's execution of a convicted murderer in Texas just hours before he was scheduled to die. This is the second time Cleve Foster, 47, has escaped the lethal injection this year.
Foster was given the death penalty by a jury for the 2002 rape and murder of Mary Pal, 30, in Fort Worth. The gun used in Pal's death was also linked to the murder of Texas Tech student and Lubbock native Rachel Urnosky, 22. Foster was charged with Urnosky's murder but never convicted.
In January the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Foster's initial execution on an appeal claiming Foster was innocent and had poor legal representation during his trial. A week later the high court rejected those claims, but Tuesday morning the Supreme Court decided to reconsider the same appeal blocking the execution once again.
Urnosky's parents, Terry and Pam, are now forced to relive the nightmare. The family released this statement after hearing the news of Foster being granted a second stay of execution:
"My family and I are devastated with this, the second stay of execution in the past three months. As Foster's lawyers continue to play the judicial system with last minute appeals, there is nothing but total disregard for the victim's families who are forced to relive the horror of this tragedy one more time. We are sickened that a convicted murderer continues to receive consideration and his life sparred when he failed to give the same to my daughter Rachel and Ms. Pal. The tremendous sorrow we feel today comes from the fact justice was not served, nor were we afforded the opportunity to close this chapter of our lives. We do remain hopeful that one day this nightmare with end and good will triumph over evil."
Foster would have been the third to be executed in Texas this year, but the first to be given a new combination of drugs in the lethal injection.
A shortage of Sodium Thiopental, one of the three drugs used in the injection, has caused the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to replace it with Pentobarbital. Both are barbiturates and work the same way, but Foster's lawyers filed a lawsuit against TDCJ saying they violated protocol when they announced the swap of the drugs.
That lawsuit was rejected by a state judge.
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