Texas to execute its oldest death row inmate

Eva Deschamps / April 18, 2022

Carl Buntion, a Texan sentenced to death for killing a police officer in 1990 is scheduled to be executed on April 21. But his defenders are still trying to prevent his execution. 
 
In June 1990, this man, raised by an alcoholic and violent father, had already been convicted 13 times and was on parole for a sexual assault on a child.
 
While responding to a routine traffic violation in Houston, Carl Buntion shoots and kills police officer James Irby.
 
Sentenced to death, he saw this verdict overturned in 2009 by the highest court in Texas, which had found that the defense had not been properly heard by the jurors. But in 2012, he was again sentenced to death.
 
In this case, Carl Buntion's defenders are not trying to prove his innocence. Every day for the last 32 years, I have regretted what happened, he told KHOU 11 in an interview this week.
 
But in this great conservative southern state, the most executing state in the United States, a person can only be sentenced to death if a jury finds that he or she poses a future danger to others.
 
But Carl Buntion, who suffers from osteoarthritis, vertigo, hepatitis and cirrhosis, among other things, can no longer be dangerous, his lawyers argue in an appeal to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, which will rule two days before the execution date.
 
Carl Buntion, who has been convicted of only three disciplinary infractions during his decades of incarceration, has been isolated in his cell 23 hours a day for 20 years.
 
In Texas, people on death row are placed in a tiny cell with only a small slit at the top for a window, said Burke Butler, director of the Texas Defender Service.
 
Being in solitary confinement for 30, 40 or 50 years is torture, says Burke Butler.
 
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn Carl Buntion's conviction, but progressive Justice Stephen Breyer ruled that the length of his confinement calls into question the constitutionality of the death penalty.
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