Texas Set to Execute Man Because of His Race


Sadly, executions in Texas are no rare occurrence. Rick Perry, the current Republican governor and presidential hopeful, has presided over more executions than any governor in the modern history of execution. One impending execution, though, is making headlines, because the man set to be executed may have been sentenced to die explicitly because he is a black man.

No one doubts that Duane Edward Buck killed his ex-girlfriend and her friend in July of 1995; there is no reasonable doubt that he is a murderer. After his guilt was determined, though, the prosecution called a psychology “expert” during the sentencing phase who testified that because Buck is black he is more prone to violence — and should therefore be executed. The jury then sentenced him to death.

It doesn’t take a constitutional scholar to see the problem  – obviously any “evidence” like this should have been inadmissible, and it likely influenced the jury. Then state Attorney General (and current Republican US Senator) John Cornyn actually petitioned the US Supreme Court to retry this case and five others, in which experts had testified that ethnic minorities were more likely to continue to commit crimes. United Press International quotes Cornyn as saying at the time, “It is inappropriate to allow race to be considered as a factor in our criminal justice system.”

At this point, the other five defendants have been granted new trials, but Buck has not. With his execution date looming on September 15th, there are only a few last ditch efforts left for civil rights lawyers to intercede . Bob Ray Sanders of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that “last week, lawyers with the Texas Defender Service representing Buck filed a petition with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles asking the board and Gov. Rick Perry to grant clemency for their client.”

So basically, Duane Edward Buck’s last chance at getting a fair trial is now up to the governor with more blood on his hands than any other governor in recent history. Perry, who famously refused to halt executions for people who a panel of forensic experts had exonerated or who had not been read their rights in accordance with international law, has yet to comment on the growing scandal. As the presidential campaign heats up, though, all eyes are on Perry to see if he will grant Buck his Constitutional right to a fair trial, where race is not a factor. At this point, if he really is so gung-ho about the Constitution, the least the governor could do is stay the execution and grant a retrial.

Above all else, though, cases like this call into question the constitutionality of the death penalty itself. The Supreme Court has ruled that as long as race never explicitly makes it into the trial, huge racial disparities in execution rates are excusable. Well, it turns out that at least in one state, race is very much a part of how life and death decisions were made; now one man may have to pay for it.

Related Stories:

Georgia Videotapes Prisoner’s Execution

Supreme Court Won’t Halt Humberto Leal’s Execution

All Hail Perry, The Front Runner

Photo from timmenzies via flickr.


W. C
W. C3 months ago

Thanks for caring.

William C
William C3 months ago

Thank you for the information.

Pippi de Kok
Pippi de Kok4 years ago

I'm black and I say execute to guy. He killed twp women in cold blood. He deserves to die, no matter what color he is. He is a disgrace to the black race and we will all be better off when he has been executed.

Zoe B.
Zoe B6 years ago

Lauren, with respect, i never said I was pro death penalty, I'm simply saying the man was put to death because that is the punishment for that particular crime in the state where he commit that crime. NOT because of his race. i am so sick of people using race, and sexual orientation to drive an even bigger wedge between already struggling groups.
The man killed two people. In Texas. The penalty for that in Tx is DEATH, no matter what colour your skin is.

Lauren Phillips
Lauren Phillips6 years ago

Zoe B. you should really do your research it costs much , much, more in appeals and legal costs for a person on death row, than it does to house and feed a prisoner for a lifetime. There have been many prisoners who we're on death row and we're later exonerated when DNA and forensics proved they we're innocent. Wouldn't that be considered murder if we had put them to death.If we've learned anything it's that our judicial system is not without flaws what with police misconduct, evidence tampering and people bearing false witness how can we ever be totally sure of a persons guilt or innocence. That said it's also not God's will, the Commandments say" thou shall not kill", period. Aren't you commiting murder when you execute a person the very same deed these prisoners have been accused of and jailed for. Colleen B. I think you are confusing passion for ones convictions and beliefs, The people at Care2 are very commited to ending poverty, animal abuse, child abuse,bullying in schools, saving our planet from destruction, stopping police brutality, and getting legislation for clean water and air. This has nothing whatsoever to do with revenge, I agree that some people lack refinement and revert to name calling. This really is a shame.We should all be able to converse and get our point across without reverting to childish name calling. But it has been my experience that this is the minority certainly not the majority that as you suggest.

Zoe B.
Zoe B6 years ago

oh, Joy, give it a rest. The man MURDERED. He gets the death penalty for that, regardless of colour.

Joy Jin
Joy Jin6 years ago

sad that racism still exists everywhere even in the court of law.

Lisa Stripling
Lisa Stripling6 years ago

@ Pradip,

The man was not condemned because of his skin color. He was condemned because he murdered two people (one in front of her young daughter) and laughed as he did it.

Alicia N.
Alicia N6 years ago

noted with sadness.

Jutta Suthau
Jutta Suthau6 years ago

Well said, Pradip C.!