Friday, September 16, 2011

Execution of double killer halted at the last minute over remark about race that was made at his sentencing - 16th Sept 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution Thursday of a black man convicted of a double murder in Texas 16 years ago after his lawyers contended his sentence was unfair because of a question asked about race during his trial.

Duane Buck, 48, was spared from lethal injection when the justices, without extensive comment, said they would review an appeal in his case.

Two appeals, both related to a psychologist's testimony that black people were more likely to commit violence, were before the court. One was granted; the other was denied.

Buck was sentenced to death for the fatal shootings of his ex-girlfriend and a man in her apartment in July 1995.

Buck's guilt is not being questioned, but his lawyers say the jury was unfairly influenced and that he should receive a new sentencing hearing.

His attorneys appealed to the Supreme Court and Texas Gov. Rick Perry to block the execution, saying a psychologist testified that black people were more likely to commit violence.

Buck's case is one of six convictions that then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn - a political ally of Perry who is now a Republican U.S. senator - reviewed in 2000 and said needed to be reopened because of the racial reference.

In the other five cases, new punishment hearings were held and each convict again was sentenced to die. Read More