At 7:15 a.m. on April 5, 1984 Gary Cox woke up, showered, and got a
cup of coffee. He left his wife and nine-day-old daughter at home
and went to work at his combination feed store, convenience store,
and gas station. The store was a mile from Cox's home and two miles
west of Springtown.
A customer arrived at 7:30 and was immediately ordered out by a man
with a shotgun. A neighbor walked towards the store, heard a gunshot
and saw Gary Cox fall after he had been shot. A white over red Chevy
fled from the scene. Cox was dead from a shotgun blast to his , the
cash drawer was open and empty.
Earlier at 4:00 a.m., a Sheriff's deputy had checked a white over
red Chevy parked on a nearby service road and obtained the drivers
license of Foster, who was with a woman later identified as Vicki
Police tracked down Easterwood, who directed police to a stock tank
located in a rural area, and clothing, a .12 gauge shotgun shell,
and a sawed-off shotgun was found inside.
Foster was apprehended after holding several bank employees hostage
for 12 hours during a robbery. During a hearing in federal court in
March 2000, Foster admitted, for the first time, the commission of
the instant offense, claiming that it was an accident. Foster was
previusly convicted of Aggravated Robbery in 1976.
After his death sentence, Foster was transferred for trial on the
Kidnapping/Hostage charges and escaped while awaiting trial from
Stephens County Jail. Before capture, he hijacked a truck from a
teenager. Ultimately, he was convicted of the Kidnapping charges and
was sentenced to four life sentences. He also received a 20 year
sentence for escape. Foster was a Vietnam veteran.
Texas Attorney General
May 23, 2000
RICHARD DONALD FOSTER SCHEDULED
TO BE EXECUTED
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn
offers the following information on Richard Donald Foster who is
scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Wednesday, May 24th:
FACTS OF THE CRIME
At approximately 4:00 a.m., April 5, 1984,
Tarrant County Sheriff's Deputy H.L. Rice was on patrol east of Azle
on the Jacksboro Highway, also known as State Highway 199.
He observed a "white over red" Chevrolet two-door, Texas license plate
# GPW-857, parked on the southern service road, east of the Hob Nob
Bar and about 15 miles from Springtown.
There were two people in the
car, the driver and a woman. Rice identified the driver as Richard
D. Foster by Foster's Texas driver's license. Rice did not obtain
identification of the woman at that time, but she was later
identified as Vicki Easterwood. Rice spoke with Foster for about
three minutes, then continued his patrol.
At 7:15 a.m. on April 5, Gary Cox woke up,
showered, and got a cup of coffee. He left his wife and nine-day-old
daughter at home and went to work at his combination feed store,
convenience store, and gas station. Zack Leatherwood had leased the
feed store to Gary Cox on April 1, 1984.
The store was located on
the same property as Leatherwood's home and was a mile from Cox's
home and two miles west of Springtown. Mrs. Cox said that her
husband had taken $300 in cash with him to open his store that
Kenneth Davis had driven to Gary Cox's feed store
at around 7:30 a.m. When he arrived at the store and got out of his
truck, he saw a "real clean" older model General Motors car parked
at the feed store.
Davis described the car as red with a white half-vinyl
top. Just as Davis entered the store, he heard an explosion.
Suddenly across the store, a man with a shotgun pointed at Davis
said, "Man, you better get the hell out of here." Davis replied, "'I'm
leaving," and turned around and ran. When Davis got out of the
store, he ran towards Leatherwood's house.
Seeing Leatherwood, Davis
yelled to warn him of what happened at the store. When Davis got to
the Leatherwood's fence gate, he turned to look back at the store.
He observed the red and white car leaving the store going west on
Highway 199. At trial he identified a photograph of the car. In that
photo, the car bears Texas license plate # GPW-857.
Leatherwood testified that as he was walking down
to the feed store and got close to the rear of the store, he heard a
gunshot and saw Gary Cox fall after he had been shot. Leatherwood
then ran back to his house to get his shotgun.
When he returned to
the store, Leatherwood checked Cox's vital signs and determined that
he was dead. Leatherwood then entered the feed store. He saw the
cash drawer was open, change scattered on the counter, and a $5 bill
laying on the counter. The cash drawer was empty.
At about 7:40 a.m., Linda Morgan arrived at Gary
Cox's store to buy some milk. As she was leaving the parking lot,
she passed a General Motors automobile with a "cream colored" vinyl
top. Morgan later identified Foster as the driver of that car.
On April 28 and 29, 1984, Donald Teague, the
chief deputy of the Parker County Sheriff's Office interviewed Vicki
Easterwood, the woman in car with Richard Donald Foster. Easterwood
led authorities to a stock tank located in a rural area. A scuba
diver searching the tank found a satchel which contained items of
clothing, a .12 gauge shotgun shell, and a sawed-off shotgun.
During a hearing in federal court in March 2000,
Foster admitted, for the first time, the commission of the instant
offense, claiming that it was an accident.
In July 1984, Foster was charged by indictment in
the 43rd District Court of Parker County, Texas, with the capital
murder of Gary Cox, committed during the course of a robbery or
Foster was tried before a jury upon a plea of not
guilty. The jury found him guilty of the capital offense on November
9, 1985. Following a separate punishment hearing, the jury sentenced
Foster to death.
Foster appealed his conviction and sentence to
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas, which affirmed the
conviction and sentence on June 28, 1989, and denied rehearing on
September 20, 1989.
The United States Supreme Court denied Foster's
petition for writ of certiorari on March 19, 1990. Foster then filed
an application for a state writ of habeas corpus with the convicting
court on June 25, 1990.
On October 25, 1991, the trial court
recommended that relief be denied and, on June 17, 1992, the Court
of Criminal Appeals agreed.
In August 1992, Foster filed a federal
petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District
Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division. The
district court denied relief on May 21, 1999, and denied Foster
permission to appeal.
After filing a notice of appeal to the United
States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Foster expressed a
desire to withdraw his appeal.
An evidentiary was held by the
federal district court, after which the district court found that
Foster's waiver of appeal was informed, voluntary, and intentional.
On April 14, 2000, the Fifth Circuit granted Foster permission to
withdraw his appeal.
PRIOR AND RELATED CRIMINAL HISTORY
At the punishment phase of trial, the State
introduced evidence reflecting Foster's prior convictions for credit
card abuse, an aggravated robbery committed on June 16, 1976, an
aggravated robbery committed on June 21, 1976, and an aggravated
robbery committed on June 22, 1976.
After the instant conviction and sentence of
death, Foster was transported to the custody of the Texas Department
In July 1986, Foster was transported to the Stephens
County Jail in Breckenridge, Texas, to stand trial on kidnapping
charges stemming from the bank-hostage situation. On August 3, 1986,
Foster, accompanied by a female inmate, managed to escape from the
jail with the use of a knife.
The female inmate surrendered the
following day, while Foster eluded an intensive manhunt for him. On
August 7th, Foster carjacked a pickup truck from a teenager at
gunpoint. While driving through a roadblock authorities had set up,
the rear tires of the pickup truck were shot out. Authorities
pursued Foster for several miles, then were able to apprehend him.
On August 25, 1986, Foster pled no contest to four aggravated
kidnapping charges relating to the bank-hostage situation and
received four life sentences.
DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL
Although evidence was presented at the punishment
phase of trial reflecting that Foster had sought treatment for a
drug problem upon his return from serving in Vietnam, no evidence
was presented demonstrating that the instant offense was directly
attributable to drug or alcohol use.
Richard Foster was sentenced to death for the
April 1984 murder of Gary Michael Cox who owned a feed store near
Gary was shot once in the back of the head with a
shotgun during a robbery that netted $250.
Foster was arrested on May 5, 1984 after holding
seven hostages at a bank in Breckenridge for 12 hours. Foster
received four life sentences in that incident.
Foster escaped from a county jail in August 1986
while awaiting trial on the hostage-taking. Police captured him
after shooting out the tires of the stolen vehicle he was driving.
Foster had previous convictions for aggravated robbery and credit
card abuse. He had been paroled just over two years before Gary's
Texas Executes Killers
'I Have Been Crucified
With Christ,' Convict Says
May 25, 2000
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - A man who fatally shot a
feed store owner with a sawed-off shotgun during a robbery was
executed by injection in Texas on Wednesday, a few hours before the
neighboring state of Oklahoma executed a convicted killer.
Richard Donald Foster, 47, shot Gary Cox once in
the back of the head while robbing his store near Springtown in 1984
and fled with about $300. Springtown is about 30 miles northwest of
Fort Worth. Cox was killed just after he opened his combination feed
store, convenience store and gas station.
Before receiving the injection, Foster said: "I
have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives, but
Christ who lives in me."
Relatives watch death
Five of Fosters' friends and relatives attended
the execution, holding hands as the drugs took effect. Foster was
the 17th Texas inmate to receive lethal injection this year and the
second of three this week.
Two more executions are set for next week
and seven are scheduled for June. Charles Foster's attorney
contended that he was mentally retarded, something that wasn't
considered by the jury that convicted him and served as the basis
for his final appeal.
Richard Foster executed
May 24, 2000
TEXAS: In Huntsville, a man who gunned
down a feedstore owner during a 1984 robbery was put to death by
lethal injection on Wednesday in the second execution in Texas in
Richard Foster, 47, was the fifth inmate this
month and the 17th this year to be executed in Texas, which leads
the nation in capital punishment. A third execution this week was
scheduled for Thursday.
Foster was sentenced to die for murdering
Gary Cox on April 5, 1984 in the northeastern Texas town of
Springtown. He shot Cox in the back of the head with a shotgun while
taking $250 from his feedstore.
After years of legal appeals, Foster admitted
during a federal court hearing in March that he killed Cox and asked
that all efforts to stop his execution be dropped.
In a final statement in the Texas death chamber, Foster referred to his
conversion to Christianity. "I have been crucified with Christ. It
is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me,'' he said,
before bidding goodbye to a cousin witnessing the execution. "I'll
see you when you get there, okay?'' Foster told her, apparently
referring to the hereafter.
Foster was the 216th person executed in Texas
since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982, six years after
the U.S. Supreme Court removed a national ban on the death penalty.
Foster becomes the 36th condemned inmate to be put to death in the
USA this year and the 634th overall since America resumed executions
on Jan. 17th, 1982.
"89 Executions - I Was the Warden. I Did the Job
With Dignity. I Still Have Questions,"
By Jim Willett, who worked
for the Texas prison system for 30 years.
The Washington Post
May 13, 2001
For 3 years I presided over the place where
nearly all Texas prisoners spend their final moments behind bars.
Most are released to a life outside. But many others come here to
For some, even that is a release. As the senior warden at "The
Walls" (as the Huntsville Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal
Justice is known), I oversaw the execution of 89 inmates at the
busiest death house in the nation. I retired this year, which has
given me time to reflect on some of the prisoners who died on my
Another, Richard Foster, I remember because he
was so lively. He was what we called a "volunteer," meaning he had
waived his right to further appeals, much like McVeigh. As much as a
warden could, I enjoyed my conversation with Foster.
He admitted in
a moment that he had committed the crime and said he had had time to
set things right with God. If you can imagine it, he was cheerful
when he was strapped down. The guards said he had been joking all
Murderer at Large In Texas Prison Escape
The New York Times
August 5, 1986
A condemned murderer who
escaped from a county jail remained at large
today after officers recaptured a woman who
fled with him.
The killer, Richard
Donald (Stony) Foster, 33 years old, and
Cindy Davis, 27, escaped Sunday night after
Mr. Foster, wielding a knife, locked a
jailer in a cell, said the Stephens County
sheriff, James Cain.
The authorities said they
captured the woman without resistance about
8 A.M. about 25 miles northeast of
The authorities were
hunting for Mr. Foster in the same area.
Foster v. State,
779 S.W.2d 845 (Tex.Cr.App. 1989) (Direct Appeal).
Deputy H.L. Rice of the Tarrant County Sheriff's
Office began his shift on April 4, 1984 at 11:00 p.m. Rice was
assigned to patrol the northwest corner of Tarrant County until his
shift ended at 7:00 a.m. on April 5, 1984.
At approximately 4:00
a.m., Rice was east of Azle on the Jacksboro Highway, also known as
State Highway 199. He observed a "white over red" Chevrolet two-
door: with Texas license plate GPW-857 parked on the southern
service road, east of the Hob Nob Bar.
There were two people in the
car, the driver and a female. Rice identified the driver as the
appellant, Richard D. Foster, by Foster's Texas driver's license.
Rice did not identify the female.
Evidence admitted later during the
guilt phase of the trial indicated this female was Vicki Elaine
Easterwood. Rice spoke with appellant for about three minutes, and
then continued his patrol.
At trial, Rice testified that appellant's
car was parked approximately fifteen miles from Springtown. At 7:15
a.m. on April 5, Gary Cox woke up, showered and got a cup of coffee.
He left his wife and nine day old daughter at home and went to work
at his combination feed store, convenience store and gas station.
The store was a mile from Cox's home and two miles west of
Springtown. At trial, his widow testified that Gary Cox took $300.00
in cash with him to open his store.
At 7:40 or 7:45 a.m. on April 5, Linda Morgan
arrived at Gary Cox's store to buy some milk. As she was leaving the
parking lot, she passed a General Motors automobile with a "cream
colored" vinyl top.
The driver of the automobile wore a toboggan
type hat and had a beard. At trial, Morgan identified appellant as
the driver. Zack Leatherwood had leased the feed store to Gary Cox
on April 1, 1984.
The store was located on the same property as
Leatherwood's home. On the morning of April 5, Leatherwood walked
down to the feed store. As he got close to the rear of the store,
Leatherwood heard a gunshot and saw Gary Cox fall "right back out of
that store with his neck about half blowed off."
The next thing
Leatherwood remembered was hearing Ken Davis yell to get out of
there. Leatherwood then ran back to his house to get his shotgun.
When he returned to the store, Leatherwood checked Cox's vital signs
and determined that he was dead.
Leatherwood then entered the feed
store. He saw the cash drawer was open, change scattered on the
counter, and a $5 bill laying on the counter. The cash drawer was
Kenneth Davis had driven to Gary Cox's feed store
at around 7:30 a.m. on April 5. When he arrived at the store and got
out of his truck, he saw a "real clean" older model General Motors
car parked at the feed store.
Davis described the car as "persimmon
red with a white half-vinyl type." Just as Davis entered the store,
he heard a "real loud explosion". In his own words, Davis was just
startled and I yelled, 'Hey,' as loud as I could, and just stood
there for a split second. And suddenly across the store, a man with
a shotgun pointed at me and says, 'Man, you better get the hell out
of here.' And I said, 'I'm leaving,' and I turned around and ran.
When Davis got out of the store, he ran towards Zack Leatherwood's
house. Seeing Leatherwood, Davis yelled to warn him of what happened
at the store. When Davis got to the Leatherwood's fence gate, he
turned to look back at the store.
He testified, "I saw this
persimmon red car with a white vinyl top leaving the store area
going west on Highway 199." At trial he identified State's Exhibit #
13 as a photo of that car. In that photo, the car bears Texas
license plate # GPW-857.
At trial Davis physically described the man he
saw with the shotgun. He was a white male, approximately 5' 10", who
had a beard. He wore a lumberjack type hat. He held a short-barreled
Davis was unable to describe the facial characteristics of
the man because "he had a shotgun on me" and because part of the
man's face was covered. Donald Teague, the chief deputy of the
Parker County Sheriff's Office, responded to a call for
investigation of the shooting on April 5, 1984.
Teague continued his
investigation through April 28, including interviews with
Leatherwood and Davis. On April 28 and 29, Teague interviewed Vicki
This interview began at the Graham Police
Department and continued at the Young County Jail. Subsequently, at
12:22 p.m. on April 29, Teague met with a Justice of the Peace in
Weatherford, Texas and obtained a capital murder arrest warrant for
Teague searched unsuccessfully for appellant from
April 29 until May 10. On the 29th of April he interviewed Kathy
Nievar, appellant's former live-in girlfriend. She was unable to
help Teague locate appellant.
On May 10, Teague went to the
Citizen's National Bank on Highway 190 in Breckenridge. He was
present when appellant was arrested by members of the Federal Bureau
At that time, appellant identified himself as "Stoney
Armadillo." Tommy Martin, an officer with the Graham Police
Department, saw appellant in Graham on March 30, 1984, six days
before the instant offense. At that time appellant was with Vicki
Easterwood in the persimmon red car with a white vinyl top which Ken
Davis testified that he saw at the feed store.
On the day the
capital murder arrest warrant was issued, Martin was looking for the
persimmon red car with the white vinyl top in Graham. He stopped the
car and discovered it was being driven by Kathy Nievar.
Nievar first met appellant in August of 1982.
They soon began living together in Irving, Texas. They broke up in
December of 1983. She did not see appellant again until late April
The last time she saw appellant was on the evening of April
28 at 9:00 p.m. Nievar noticed that appellant was tired and nervous.
Appellant had a pistol at the time. Appellant borrowed Nievar's car
(a 1978 Buick) and left his own for her to drive.
stopped her in it on the 29th, and she drove it to the police
station to be left there. Later that night, appellant called her and
told her that her Buick would be returned that night. He then hung
up. Nievar did not hear from appellant again.
On April 29, 1984, Deputy James Moody of the
Parker County Sheriff's Office traveled with Sheriff Billy Cain to
the Young County Sheriff's Office in Graham to meet with Vicki
Easterwood, and assist in the investigation of the instant case.
Earlier that day, Vicki Easterwood discussed with the authorities
what she knew of appellant's actions on April 5th after the
commission of the instant offense. Vicki Easterwood informed the
authorities that appellant got rid of the shotgun after leaving the
scene. Sheriff Cain, Deputy Moody, and Easterwood left Graham and
drove to Wise County.
Their destination was a stock tank which lay
south of Farm Road 1810, one and a half miles east of the Wise/Jack
County line where they hoped to recover evidence of the instant
When they arrived at this location, Vicki Easterwood had a
discussion with Moody and Sheriff Cain, and she then made a throwing
gesture toward the stock tank. Later that day, Vicki Easterwood was
returned to Graham by Moody.
Moody returned to the stock tank in Wise County
on May 30, 1984 with Mark Wade, a diver from Weatherford. While
searching the tank, Wade found a satchel which contained items of
clothing, a .12 gauge shotgun shell and a sawed-off shotgun.
trial these items were admitted into evidence. At trial Dr. Nizam
Peerwani testified that the sawed-off shotgun recovered from the
stock tank was capable of inflicting the fatal wound to Gary Cox.
Jack Bellinof was working for Gooch Meat Packers on May 10, 1984. He
was driving his regular route as a salesman from Olney to
Throckmorton on Highway 70.
At approximately 9:00 a.m. Bellinof
stopped to pick up a rider, who Bellinof later identified as
appellant. They made small talk until appellant indicated where he
wanted Bellinof to let him out.
After he stopped the car, appellant
told Bellinof, "This is where you get off." Appellant then attacked
Bellinof with a revolver. The two of them struggled over the gun at
first. Appellant then drew a second pistol and succeeded in shooting
Bellinof four times: in the right shoulder, in the jaw, in the left
hand and in the back of the head.
Bellinof managed to open his door
and get out of the car. Appellant got in the car and drove off,
leaving Bellinof in the road.
On May 10, 1984, Scott Harris was working at his
job as a senior vice- president of the Citizen's National Bank in
Breckenridge. At 11:45 a.m., the appellant entered the bank carrying
two pistols and yelled he was taking control of the bank for his own
protection. Appellant threatened to kill anyone who failed to comply
with his orders.
Appellant took seven hostages: four men, including
Harris, and three women. Appellant indicated to his hostages that
both Young and Parker County authorities were pursuing him for a
murder in Parker County.
At trial, on cross-examination, Harris
recalled that appellant told him the Parker County authorities were
after him for what happened in Parker County. Harris admitted at
trial that appellant claimed to be innocent of the Parker County
After hearing all the evidence in this case, the
jury convicted appellant of the capital murder of Gary Cox. At
punishment, the State admitted into evidence a penitentiary packet
which reflected the following prior convictions which were served
concurrently: credit card abuse, for which his 1975 probation was
revoked; aggravated robbery, committed on June 16, 1976; aggravated
robbery, committed on June 21, 1976; and aggravated robbery,
committed on June 22, 1976. Appellant received a total sentence of
Appellant called several witnesses at punishment.
The officer in charge of him during trial stated appellant had
caused him no trouble. His father testified appellant had been a
fine person until he returned home from Viet Nam in 1972.
explained that appellant had a drug problem. A private consultant in
the field of corrections testified that appellant would never be
paroled from a life sentence for capital murder.