Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has unabashedly stood by executing more people than any governor in history, but lawyers are pleading with Perry not to add to the record by condemning a man whose sentence may have been tainted by racist testimony.
Duane Edward Buck is sitting on death row for the 1995 shooting deaths of Debra Gardner and Kenneth Butler. But in now discredited testimony, Dr. Walter Quijano told the jury during the 1997 trial that Buck, a black man, was predisposed to violent crime because of his race. During cross-examination at Buck's trial, a prosecutor asked Quijano whether the race factor, black, increases the future dangerousness for various complicated reasons; is that correct?
Yes, Quijano replied.
New Trials Ordered for 6 Others Following Quijano's Testimony
Six other death row cases in which Quijano gave similar testimony resulted in new trials after then-Attorney General John Cornyn said Quijano's testimony should not have been allowed by state prosecutors. Perry is now facing calls to offer a similar reprieve by granting Buck a one time, 30-day stay of execution.
We urge Gov. Perry to grant a temporary reprieve to allow all parties involved to work together to ensure that Mr. Buck receives a new and fair sentencing hearing untainted by race-based testimony, said Kate Black, one of Buck's defense lawyers.
On Tuesday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended that Perry not commute or delay Buck's sentence, overriding the urging of Buck's defense lawyers, a prosecutor who was on the team that sentenced him and one of Buck's victims who survived after being shot in the chest. Perry cannot grant clemency without the board's approval, but he can grant the 30-day delay.
Perry was asked at a recent Republican presidential debate whether he had any qualms about authorizing 234 executions in the past decade, more than any other governor. After loud applause from the audience subsided, Perry defended the executions as the ultimate justice.
I've never struggled with that at all, Perry said. The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place. When someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States if that's required.