The relatively rare intervention, by the highest court in the US, places Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas and Republican Presidential hopeful, under the spotlight. Earlier this week, Perry refused to delay the controversial execution so it could be reviewed.
[Duane] Buck, 48, was convicted of killing his former girlfriend, Debra Gardner, and another man, Kenneth Butler, in 1995. He drove to her house at night, armed with a rifle and shotgun, and high on drugs. Police found him trying to flee after the shooting. He was arrested after being identified by multiple witnesses. They included a third victim, Gardner's stepsister Phyllis Taylor, who was shot in the chest, but survived.
That Buck carried out the attack is not in dispute. No one is arguing that his murder conviction should be quashed, either. Instead, the legal controversy revolves around the subsequent sentencing hearing, at which a jury voted for him to be executed.
During the hearing, a psychologist called Walter Quijano contended that black or Hispanic men are more likely to re-offend if let out of prison than their white counterparts. The evidence was important, since defendants can only be put to death in Texas if the prosecution demonstrates that they represent a future threat to society. However, it also violated the US Constitution, which does not allow race to influence someone's treatment by the justice system. [...]
The US Supreme Court has now asked for further time to look at Buck's request. Once its justices have done that, they will either order a new sentencing trial or lift their temporary stay of execution and allow him to be executed.
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