Texas executes the oldest inmate on its death row

Washington – The state of Texas executed this Thursday Carl Buntion, who at 78 was the oldest inmate to face the death penalty in the state and that he was convicted of the 1990 murder of a Houston police officer.

Buntion received the lethal injection less than a week before the scheduled execution of Melissa Lucio, the first Latina sentenced to death in Texas, who insists on her innocence.

Buntion’s was the first execution this year in Texas and it came shortly after the US Supreme Court rejected a last attempt by his lawyers to pause it, local newspaper The Texas Tribune reported.

Before his execution in the Huntsville (Texas) prison, the prisoner addressed the relatives of the police officer he confessed to having murdered 32 years ago during a traffic stop, James Irby.

“I want the Irby family to know one thing: I do regret what I did. I pray to God that (the family) gets comfort from the fact that I killed her father, Mrs. Irby’s husband,” Buntion said.

“To all my friends who supported me all these years, I’m not going to say goodbye, but see you later. I’m ready to go,” he added.

Buntion was sentenced to death in 1991, but his execution was delayed for decades due to lengthy legal battles over whether juries like the one that had examined him should take into account elements such as the defendant’s mental illness or childhood.

Bunion’s childhood was rough: his father broke his bones, he broke his mother’s teeth, he killed a man in front of his brother, and he left the family homeless after losing the house in a bet; and Bunion’s twin brother was shot dead by police.

Bunion’s lawyers argued unsuccessfully this month that the prisoner’s age and decades of good behavior on death row should free him from the death penalty.

“After living under sentence of death for more than three decades in a state that holds its death row prisoners in solitary confinement, Bunion has been punished to an excessive degree,” attorneys David Dow and Jeff Newberry wrote. .

His execution was the fourth so far this year in the United States, after two registered in Oklahoma and another in Alabama; and it came at a time of heightened anticipation over Texas plans to administer Lucio’s lethal injection next Wednesday in the same prison.

Lucio, 53, became the first Latina sentenced to death in Texas in 2008 after a trial in which the Prosecutor’s Office argued that the defendant killed her daughter with a beating, while she alleged that the little girl, who had malformations in his legs, he fell down the long old staircase of his house in a moment of carelessness.

In the last decade, public opinion in the United States has turned its back on the death penalty, convictions have plummeted and so have executions: from 98 in 1999 to just 11 in 2021, limited to a handful from southern states.

Twenty-three of the 50 states have now abolished the death penalty in their territory, while another three have an active moratorium and ten more have not carried out an execution for more than a decade, according to the independent Death Penalty Information Center. (DPIC).

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