Cleve Foster, 48, was executed by lethal injection on 25 September 2012 in Huntsville, Texas for the rape and murder of a 28-year-old woman.
On the evening of 13 February 2002, Foster, then 38, and Sheldon Ward, 22, met Nyanuer "Mary" Pal, 28, at Fat Albert's, a Fort Worth bar where all three were regular customers. Pal danced with Ward and interacted primarily with him until the bar closed at 2:00 a.m. She then walked to the parking lot with him and talked for a few minutes. She then left in her car. Foster and Ward were seen following Pal closely in Foster's truck. According to the bartender, they were "right on her bumper".
At about 6:00 a.m., some workers who were laying pipe in a remote area of Tarrant county discovered Pal's nude body in a ditch. She had been shot in the head. A wadded-up, bloody piece of duct tape was next to her body. Pal's unlocked car was found in the parking lot of her apartment complex.
Having learned that Pal was last seen with Foster and Ward, police searched their motel room on 21 February. Only Foster was present at the time of the search. He directed the police to a dresser drawer that contained a gun Ward had purchased from a pawn shop in August 2001. The police also found various items - including three pairs of shoes, gloves, a hatchet, and a knife - soaking in cleaning fluid in a cooler in the back of Foster's truck.
Later that day, Foster voluntarily went to the police department to give a statement and a DNA sample. At first, he denied that Pal had been inside his truck. He then admitted that she may have leaned inside it. Finally, he admitted that he, Ward, and Pal went on a drive, but that he and Ward returned her to her vehicle at Fat Albert's afterward.
Police also obtained a DNA sample from Ward on 21 February.
DNA tests established that the victim's vagina and anus contained semen from Foster and Ward. DNA testing also showed that Pal's blood and tissue were on the gun taken from the motel room.
On 22 March, Foster gave another written statement to police. In this account, he stated that he and Ward followed Pal to her apartment after she left Fat Albert's, but claimed that she voluntarily went with them in his truck to their motel room. Foster stated that after taking sleeping pills and drinking beer, he fell asleep watching television while Ward and Pal were kissing. At one point, he awoke to find Pal performing oral sex on him. He tried to stay awake "to enjoy it", but kept falling asleep. Foster stated that the next thing he remembered was Ward telling him he was going to take Pal home.
At Foster's trial, a police detective and the medical examiner testified that there was no blood splatter in the area where her body was found, indicating that she was shot in another location. The soles of her feet indicated that she had not walked to the location where her body was found, but had been carried. The detective testified that the position of Pal's body suggested that she may have been carried by one person holding her hands and another holding her feet. The detective also pointed out that Ward was 5-foot-6 and weighed 140 pounds, the victim was 5-foot-7 and weighed 130 pounds, and Foster was 6 feet tall and weighed 225 pounds, implying Ward could not have carried her by himself.
Under Texas law, a defendant can be found guilty of capital murder for participating in the crime, regardless of whether he or she personally caused the victim's death.
Foster had a prior conviction for robbery in 1984. He and Ward were also suspects in the rape and murder of Rachel Urnosky, a 22-year-old Fort Worth woman who was shot to death in her bed in her apartment on 18 December 2001. She was murdered with the same gun used to kill Pal. Foster told police he and Ward were at her apartment, but they left after she refused to have sex with them.
Shortly before Urnosky's murder, Foster, an army recruiter, was denied re-enlistment for giving alcohol to and having sex with underage potential recruits.
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