Texas executes former army recruiter

Cleve Foster (AP photo/Michael Graczyk)

A former U.S. Army recruiter faced execution on Tuesday for the murder of a Sudanese immigrant woman on Valentine’s Day 2002 in Texas.

Cleve Foster, 48, said he was innocent and did not murder 30-year-old Nyaneur Pal, also known as Mary Pal.

‘‘I didn’t do it,’’ Foster said to The Associated Press maintaining his innocence. ‘‘And if it means I’m going to the gurney and the taking of my life, so be it.’’

The state announced Foster dead at 6:43 p.m., according to The Associated Press.

In the seconds before the single lethal dose of pentobarbital began, Foster expressed love to his family and to God.

“When I close my eyes, I’ll be with the father,” he said. “God is everything. He’s my life. Tonight I’ll be with him.”

He did not proclaim innocence or admit guilt. He did turn to relatives of his two victims, saying, “I don’t know what you’re going to be feeling tonight. I pray we’ll all meet in heaven.”

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, on 2/14/2002, in Tarrant County, Texas, Foster and co-defendant Ward sexually assaulted and shot a 28 year old black female, resulting in her death. Foster and Ward then moved the body of the victim to a ditch where it was discovered by workers who were laying pipe.

According to The Associated Press, a gun in the motel room where Foster and Ward lived was identified as the murder weapon and was matched to an earlier fatal shooting of 22-year-old Rachel Urnosky at her Fort Worth apartment. Foster and Ward were charged but never tried.

Foster blamed Pal’s death on Ward, one of his recruits who became a close friend. Prosecutors said evidence showed Foster actively participated in Pal’s killing, offered no credible explanations, lied and gave contradictory stories about his sexual activities with her.

The two were convicted separately, Ward as the triggerman and Foster under Texas’ law of parties, which makes participants equally culpable. Pal’s blood and tissue were found on the weapon and DNA evidence showed both men had sex with her.

At his trial, prosecutors presented evidence Pal wasn’t shot where she was found; that Ward alone couldn’t have carried her body to where it was dumped; and that since he and Foster were nearly inseparable and DNA showed both had sex with her, it was clear Foster was involved. A Tarrant County jury agreed, and both received the death sentence. Ward died in 2010 of cancer while on death row.

— The Associated Press, 2012

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