On death row for being black? The case of Duane Buck
Texas’ highest criminal court rejected an appeal from a convicted murderer where supporters charge that his death sentence was unfairly based on his race.
Duane Buck, 50, was convicted and sent to death row for the murder of his ex-girlfriend and a man at her apartment in 1995.
During the punishment phase of Buck’s 1997 trial, a psychologist testifying for the defense said black people were more likely to commit violence. Advocates for Buck, who is black, say that unfairly influenced the jury, is grounds for a new sentencing hearing and should have been pursued more vigorously by lawyers early in the appeals process. Buck was convicted of gunning down ex-girlfriend Debra Gardner, 32, and Kenneth Butler, 33, outside Houston on July, 30, 1995, a week after Buck and Gardner broke up. Buck’s stepsister also was shot but survived.
Buck’s lead attorney Kate Black, Director of the Criminal Justice Practice at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Texas Defender Service Executive Director Kathryn Kase released a statement vowing saying the appeals court “failed to recognize that his death sentence is the unconstitutional product of racial discrimination.”
Buck does not currently have an execution date. His defense team plans to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This sounds like an instance where you walk away with more questions than answers.
Thoughts on the case?
Do you find the psychologist’s testimony to be surprising?
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