Texan Set for Execution Tonight, 2nd Since Debate Crowd Cheered Deaths

Sep 15, 2011 5:05pm

Update: The U.S. Supreme Court has stayed the execution of Duane Buck. Read more about it by clicking here.

Original blog: Barring a last minute reprieve from the Supreme Court, Duane Buck tonight will become the second Texan executed since Gov. Rick Perry received cheers for Texas’ death penalty during a Republican debate last week at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.

When the moderator pointed out that Perry had authorized 234 executions during his tenure, the crowd cheered in approval.

Buck is scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Texas time.

Steven Woods, executed Tuesday, became the first Texas prisoner executed after the debate.

Between now and Nov. 16, five more executions are scheduled. The additional  inmates up for execution are Cleve Foster, Lawrence Brewer, Frank Garcia, Hank Skinner and Guadalupe Esparza.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Buck’s request for clemency, and Perry has refused to delay the execution. Perry is scheduled to be on the campaign trail and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is expected to preside over the matter. 

Buck’s supporters say that he should not be executed because Texas relied on improper racial testimony as a basis for his capital sentence and that the former Texas attorney general (now senator), John Cornyn, conceded error in Buck’s case.

On May 5, 1997, Buck was convicted of capital murder in Harris County for the shooting deaths of Debra Gardner and Kenneth Butler.

At trial, psychologist Walter Quijano testified that Buck was African American and that increased the likelihood of his being dangerous in the future. 

Lawyers for Texas successfully argued in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that Buck’s case was distinguished from other cases that featured Quijano’s testimony because Buck’s lawyers had called the psychologist to the stand. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals refused Buck’s request to hear his appeal.

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