Perry silent as controversial execution proceeds

J. Arthur Bloom Deputy Editor
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The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency on Wednesday for Duane Edward Buck, a black man convicted of murdering two Houston residents in 1995.

Phyllis Taylor, the shooting’s lone survivor, had petitioned the board to stay Buck’s execution. “This execution would only add to my pain, and it wouldn’t give me closure,” she said, according to the Texas Tribune. “I would ask that Duane Buck’s life be spared. I feel that he deserves a fair trial.”

During the 1997 murder trial psychologist Dr. Walter Quijano said that because Buck was black, he was more likely to act violently in the future. The same doctor testified at six other cases, and the defendants in each case were given retrials after then-Attorney General John Cornyn admitted the state had erred in relying on race-based testimony.

Buck’s attorney has petitioned the only two individuals capable of taking action: the District Attorney, who could withdraw the execution date, and Governor Rick Perry, who could grant a 30-day reprieve. The District Attorney’s office does not intend to withdraw the execution date, the Tribune reports.   Buck’s execution is set for Thursday, and would make him the 235th person executed during Governor Perry’s administration.

At a Republican presidential debate in Simi Valley, Calif. on September 7th, NBC anchor Brian Williams asked Perry if he lost sleep at night worrying about signing a death warrant for an innocent convict.

“No, sir,” Perry replied. “I’ve never struggled with that at all … In the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you’re involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is, you will be executed.”

Buck was convicted of shooting three people in 1995 after an early morning dispute. He killed Debra Gardner and Kenneth Butler after returning to Gardner’s home with two rifles and opening fire. Texas officials testified that Buck shot Gardner in front of her daughter, despite the girl’s plea for her mother’s life.

Update: An 11th-hour Supreme Court decision halted Duane Edward Buck’s execution, for now, agreeing to review his lawyer’s claims that race-based testimony played a role in his sentencing. Full story here.


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J. Arthur Bloom