The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has denied Duane Buck's appeal for a new sentencing, meaning an execution date can be set if the Harris County District Attorney's Office chooses to seek an execution date.
|Photo from the NAACP LDF|
Buck was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 1997 for the murders of his ex-girlfriend, Debra Gardner, and the man who was with her, Kenneth Butler. He also shot his stepsister, Phyllis Taylor, but Taylor survived. The big question has never been on Buck's guilt, but on why he was sentenced to death.
During his Harris County murder trial, a psychologist testified that Buck was more of a danger to society because he is African American. A few years after Buck was convicted, the psychologist, Walter Quijano, was cited by then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn for giving racially influenced testimony to juries. Cornyn, now a U.S. senator, identified seven cases that needed to be reviewed for sentencing and Buck's was one of them. All of the other cases have been allowed new sentencing hearings, but Buck's has been denied.
His legal team took the matter to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, but the decision handed down in a six to three ruling on Wednesday denied Buck a new sentencing hearing. While Gardner's daughter has stated she doesn't feel like Buck needs a new hearing, the only surviving victim, Taylor, and one of the trial prosecutors, Linda Geffin, have asked for a new sentencing, along with more than 100 civil rights leaders, elected officials, former prosecutors, former Gov. Mark White and faith leaders.More »