HOUSTON (AP) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected appeals from two Texas death row inmates whose executions the court previously blocked, including one stopped at the last minute a week ago.
In denying appeals from former Army recruiter Cleve Foster and parolee Gayland Bradford, the justices cleared the way for new execution dates to be set for the two convicted killers.
Attorneys for Foster and Bradford did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment. A spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General’s Office, which handles appeals in death row cases, declined to comment.
Last week, the court stopped Foster’s lethal injection as the hour approached when the 47-year-old could have been taken to the death chamber in Huntsville for the rape and fatal shooting of Nyaneur Pal, a Sudanese woman, in Fort Worth nine years ago.
The 42-year-old Bradford was condemned for the December 1988 fatal shooting of Dallas grocery store security guard Brian Williams. Bradford got within a week of execution last October before Justice Antonin Scalia stopped it
Foster has insisted a friend was responsible for fatally shooting 30-year-old Pal. The friend, Sheldon Ward, one of Foster’s recruits, also was condemned for the slaying. He died of cancer last year while in prison. Foster’s lawyers said the evidence did not support his conviction.
Foster’s attorneys argued his conviction was flawed because trial lawyers failed to arrange for a blood spatter expert to dispute a detective’s testimony that Ward couldn’t have killed Pal and moved her body to an isolated dump site by himself.
Prosecutors contended evidence showed Foster actively participated in the woman’s killing, offered no credible explanations and lied and gave contradictory stories about his sexual activities with Pal.
Foster and Ward were convicted separately. The Sudanese woman worked at a country club and was seen talking with the pair at a Fort Worth bar. Her body was found hours later dumped in a ditch off a Tarrant County road. She’d been shot once in the head.
A gun recovered from the motel room where Foster and Ward lived was identified as the weapon used to shoot Pal. It also was identified as the gun used two months earlier to kill Rachel Urnosky, 22, at her Fort Worth apartment.
In Bradford’s case, attorneys argued a court-appointed lawyer who handled his earlier appeals was inexperienced and underqualified.
At the time of the shooting, Bradford was 20 and on parole for a robbery conviction. It was Williams’ second day on the job at the store a few miles south of downtown Dallas. In a confession to police, Bradford contended the shooting was in self-defense, that his gun fired as he feared Williams was trying to get his own gun and shoot him.
Bradford had two trials. His first conviction in 1990 was thrown out on appeal. He was convicted and condemned a second time five years later.
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