Before Melissa Lucio, Texas plans to execute a 78-year-old man this Thursday

Before Melissa Lucio, Texas plans to execute a 78-year-old man this Thursday

Carl Wayne Buntion has spent more than three decades on death row for the murder of a police officer.
Carl Wayne Buntion has spent more than three decades on death row for the murder of a police officer.

HOUSTON — Texas’ oldest death row inmate faces execution this Thursday for killing a Houston police officer nearly 32 years ago during a traffic stop.

Carl Wayne Buntion, 78, was sentenced to death for the June 1990 fatal shooting of police officer James Irby.

Buntion had been on probation for just six weeks when he shot 37-year-old Irby. Buntion, who had an extensive criminal record, was a passenger in the car that Irby stopped that day to give him a ticket.

In 2009, an appeals court overturned Buntion’s sentence, but another jury sentenced him to death again three years later.

Various state and federal courts have rejected appeals by Buntion’s lawyers to stop his execution. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Tuesday denied his request for clemency.

Buntion’s lawyers say he is responsible for Irby’s death and “deserved to be severely punished for that crime.”

But they argue that his execution would be unconstitutional because the jury’s conclusion that he would be a future danger to society, one of the reasons he was sentenced to death, is incorrect as Buntion is a geriatric inmate suffering from arthritis, vertigo and he is in a wheelchair.

If Buntion is executed, he would become the oldest person Texas has sentenced to death since the Supreme Court lifted its ban on capital punishment in 1976. The oldest inmate executed in the United States in modern times was Walter Moody. Jr., who was 83 years old when he was executed in Alabama in 2018.

Buntion would also be the first inmate executed in Texas in 2022.

In a few more days, the execution of Melissa Lucio is expected.

Ben Oakley
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