WASHINGTON (CN) – Duane Buck was sentenced to death because he was black, according to his attorneys, whose arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court made it halt the execution.
Buck, convicted of a double murder in Texas 16 years ago, was plucked from death when he could have been taken to the execution chamber at any time.
Buck’s case was the only one of several whose sentencing had not been retried due to expert testimony by a psychologist named Walter Quijano, according to a Sept. 14, letter by Buck’s attorney Katherine Black requesting that Governor Rick Perry delay the execution for 30 days so the issue may be considered. Perry did not act on the request.
At Buck’s sentencing hearing, Quijano responded “Yes,” to the question: “You have determined that the sex factor, that a male is more violent than a female because that’s just the way it is, and that the race factor, black increases the future dangerousness for various complicated reasons; is that correct?” according to Black’s letter.
The Texas Attorney General at the time, John Cornyn, who is now a U.S. senator, issued a statement in 2000 listing Buck’s case as one of six convictions that needed to be reopened because of the racially charged statements made during the sentencing phase of the trial.
Whether a person could be a continuing danger to society is a factor juries must consider in Texas death penalty cases.
In each of the five cases in which sentencing was retried due to Quijano’s testimony, the person was again sentenced to be executed.