A former army recruiter sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 28-year old woman in Fort Worth, Texas almost ten years ago received a stay in his execution from the U.S Supreme Court on Tuesday.
According to the Associated Press, Cleve Foster received the news a few feet from the Texas death chamber where he was to receive a lethal injection, making this the third postponement this year.
The U.S Supreme Court granted a reprieve in order to review Foster's appeal, in which Cleve Foster continues to plea for his innocence. Prison spokesperson James Clark told that Foster expressed he did not do the crime and "thanked God and pointed to his attorney, saying this woman helped save his life."
The 47-year old convict, who was once an army recruiter, oil field worker and construction worker, was arrested in 2002 for sexually assaulting and shooting Nyaneur "Mary" Pal. According to Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the body of the young woman was discovered by workers installing a pipe. Foster wasn't the only person convicted of the crime. His co-defendant; Sheldon Aaron Ward was also sentenced to death but died from complications of cancer.
Based on the Supreme Court order, the execution stay will remain in effect until the court can decide on whether to hear Foster’s request for a review of his case. The inmate has insisted he is innocent and that another man who went with him to the bar committed the crime.
If the High Court decides not to hear Foster’s appeal, a fourth execution date will be set.
Foster was also charged with the murder of Rachel Urnosky but never convicted.
Urnosky's father, Terry, responded Tuesday to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to stay Foster’s execution for the third time.
"At this moment we are indeed saddened and sorely grieved that the legal and punishment phase of this tragedy is still not over,” Terry Urnosky said in a text message to NBC news affiliate KCBD. “My family and I are very appreciative of all of the thoughts and prayers that have helped to sustain us through the past ten years. We are resolved to rebuild our lives as a family and continue to overcome this evil with good. He received another Stay. We just found out."
The U.S death penalty been attracted international and national attention this week with organizations such as Amnesty International USA protesting for the freedom of Troy Davis, a Georgia inmate convicted of the 1989 murder of a police officer who most recently was denied clemency.
Foster already received a reprieve in January and April of this year. The U.S. Supreme Court also granted abatement for Texas convicts Duane Buck, while Laurence Brewer is scheduled to die on Wednesday.
Unlike other states, Texas has the highest death rate statistic in the nation. Harris County, Texas has 116 more execution than other states. This year alone the state has executed 10 people and a total of 474 inmates since 1982 with the most recent on Sept. 13 of this year.