2017-10-04 14:05:22 UTC
Texas Man's Death Sentence Thrown Out Over Racist Testimony
Duane E. Buck barged into his girlfriend's Texas home after she broke up with
him and killed her and a friend. Later that morning in July 1995, he fired a
rifle at his stepsister, who survived because the bullet just missed her heart.
His guilt was never in doubt, and Mr. Buck, 54, who is black, was sentenced to
death by lethal injection. But concerns about testimony from a psychologist in
the sentencing phase - that black people were more dangerous than white people
- raised concerns about the role of race in the jury's decision and led the
case to reach the Supreme Court.
In February, the Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing trial for Mr. Buck,
calling the psychologist's testimony racist. In a Houston courtroom on Tuesday,
Mr. Buck pleaded guilty to 2 counts of attempted murder, including the shooting
of his stepsister, in a deal that exchanged the death penalty for a life
sentence plus 2 60-year terms.
"This case can accomplish something," said Kim Ogg, the Harris County district
attorney. "It can close a chapter in the history of our courts, in that they
will never again hear that race is relevant to criminal justice or to the
determination of whether a man will live or die. Race is not and never has been
After Mr. Buck's conviction in 1997, his lawyer called Walter Quijano, a former
chief psychologist for the state prison system, to the stand during the
sentencing phase. Mr. Quijano, who had evaluated Mr. Buck, testified that race
could be a factor in predicting whether a person posed a future danger to
A prosecutor asked Mr. Quijano, "The race factor, black, increases the future
dangerousness for various complicated reasons - is that correct?"
"Yes," the psychologist replied.
The psychologist's answers became the basis of an appeal claiming that Mr. Buck
had not been properly represented by his lawyer.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the Supreme Court's majority in
a 6-to-2 ruling, said Mr. Quijano's testimony "appealed to a powerful racial
stereotype - that of black men as 'violence prone.'"
Mr. Buck will be moved from death row in Texas, where more than 230 inmates
await lethal injection, and he will be eligible for parole in 2035. Ms. Ogg
said her office would work to ensure he is never granted release.
Over the years, Mr. Buck had an unusual advocate in his stepsister, Phyllis
Taylor, who had forgiven him and had argued for his release from death row. Ms.
Taylor said in a statement on Tuesday she was thankful that Ms. Ogg had reached
a deal to avoid another sentencing trial.
"The thought of going through another trial was just too much to bear," Ms.
(source: New York Times)
New charges filed on death row inmate Duane Buck
Duane Buck, whose 1997 death penalty case went to the U.S. Supreme Court and
was sent back to Harris County for a retrial because of concerns about
racially-biased testimony, is expected in court Tuesday on new charges.
2 additional charges of attempted murder were filed last week by the Harris
County District Attorney's Office in connection with the 1995 shooting rampage
that landed Buck on death row.
Buck, 53, was sentenced to death for the slaying of his girlfriend, Debra
Gardner, and her friend, Kenneth Butler, after Buck and Gardner had an
argument. He returned to her home after a night of drugs and alcohol in July
1995, broke in and started shooting, witnesses said.
In the new charge, he is accused of attempting to kill his sister, Phyllis
Taylor, who was shot and survived. The 2nd new charge alleges that he attempted
to kill Harold Ebenezer, who was also at the home when Buck returned and
He is expected in court Tuesday, where he will be arraigned by state District
Judge Denise Collins on the new charges.
The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this granted Buck a new sentencing hearing
because of testimony from an expert who testified that he was more likely to be
dangerous in the future because he is black.
The hearing means he could be re-sentenced to death or life in prison.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
'The Exonerated': A Play At UVM Presents Stories From Death Row
The Exonerated tells the story of 6 death row inmates who were wrongfully
convicted and later had their convictions overturned and were released. We're
talking to the director and an actor from a new production of the play at the
University of Vermont. We'll discuss the play itself and the big issues it
explores around incarceration and the justice system.
We're joined by Gregory Ramos, chair of UVM's theater department and director
of the production. And by Randall Harp, who plays the character of Robert Earl
Hayes and is also a UVM philosophy professor.
The Exonerated will run at UVM beginning Wednesday, Oct. 4 through Sunday, Oct.
2 days before execution date, death row inmate speaks out----Convicted killer
Michael Lambrix of Plant City is set to die Thursday
2 days before his scheduled execution, Michael Lambrix decided he won't go
For an hour at Florida State Prison Tuesday, the convicted murderer talked
about life and death, his last meal and upcoming funeral, and criticized a
court system that he has long insisted would not consider evidence that would
spare his life in the killings of Clarence Moore and Aleisha Bryant in 1983.
"It won't be an execution," Lambrix told reporters. "It's going to be an act of
Lambrix, 57, who dropped out of school in Plant City, said he killed Moore in
self-defense after Moore killed Bryant during a long night of drinking near
LaBelle. He was convicted largely on the testimony of a friend, Frances Smith,
who was with him that night. They borrowed a neighbor's shovel and he buried
Lambrix had walked away from a prison work release program and said he didn't
report the killings to police because he knew he faced a long sentence for his
His 1st trial ended in a hung jury, and he was convicted of 2 counts of
1st-degree murder at a retrial in 2 divided jury recommendations (8-4 and 10-2)
that are now unconstitutional. Smith subsequently said she had an affair during
the trial with an investigator for the state attorney's office.
Lambrix has been on death row for nearly 34 years. The governor who signed his
first death warrant, Bob Martinez, left office in 1991.
Prison rules allow for a condemned inmate to hold a press conference or group
interview before an execution, but most do not.
Lambrix was in handcuffs and leg irons, and a corrections officer loosened the
metal chain around his waist and fitted him with a microphone. He sat at a
wooden table that featured the Florida Department of Corrections' motto:
"Inspiring success by transforming one life at a time."
Lambrix went on a hunger strike last month to protest his death sentence, but
ended it after 12 days. He said his final meal will be a Thanksgiving-style
turkey dinner, which is what his mother promised to cook if he was exonerated.
As Thursday's scheduled execution by lethal injection draws closer, Lambrix and
his lawyers are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.
Attorney William Hennis of Fort Lauderdale said he filed a motion with the
court Tuesday and Lambrix, a prolific writer, sent a 25-page handwritten
request to the nation's highest court from his cell.
Lambrix's case has wound through state and federal courts for more than 3
decades. Gov. Rick Scott signed Lambrix's death warrant on Nov. 30, 2015, but
the state Supreme Court postponed his execution after the groundbreaking
decision known as Hurst v. Florida in January 2016.
The state court decided that Hurst did not apply to Lambrix's case because he
was originally sentenced before 2002, under a policy that death penalty lawyers
have described as "partial retroactivity." Various other legal challenges were
dismissed on procedural grounds.
"We have a process that's more about the politics of death than the
administration of justice," Lambrix said.
Attorney General Pam Bondi has repeatedly and successfully argued that Lambrix
should be executed.
At various points Tuesday, a rambling Lambrix voiced regret at not giving
police a statement when he was first arrested in 1983, and for not later
accepting a deal offered by prosecutors of a sentence of up to 24 years if he
pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree murder.
Had he accepted that offer, Lambrix would have been released from prison more
than a decade ago.
The state released a list of 43 relatives and friends who are visiting Lambrix
at the sprawling state prison in Starke, including his parents, 3 children,
close friends and pen pals. The state's Catholic bishops have called on Scott
to stop the execution, and prayer vigils are scheduled around the state this
Lambrix, who smiled and made small talk with the officers guarding him, said
he's "spiritual" but not religious. As he faces death, he said Tuesday: "I have
no doubt whatsoever that I'm going to wake up into a better existence."
(source: Associated Press)
Alabama seeks to proceed with execution of death row inmate Jeffery Borden
Alabama on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let it proceed with an
execution of a man convicted of killing his estranged wife and father-in-law in
The Alabama attorney general asked the nation's high court to overturn an
injunction blocking Thursday's execution of Jeffery Lynn Borden, 56.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday stayed Borden's execution
through Oct. 19. Borden is challenging the humaneness of Alabama's 3-drug
lethal injection combination that begins with the use of the sedative
midazolam. The 3-judge panel ruled that there should be time to let Borden's
challenge play out in court.
"We recently held that there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding
whether Alabama's current method of execution violates the Eighth Amendment's
prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and remanded for further
proceedings," the panel wrote.
State lawyers argued that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed several executions
to proceed using the same drug protocol, and that Borden "presents nothing new
that would justify a stay."
"Alabama has already carried out 4 executions using this protocol," lawyers for
the state wrote in the Monday court filing. "Any questions concerning 3-drug
midazolam protocols have effectively been answered."
Borden was convicted of killing his wife, Cheryl Borden, and her father, Roland
Harris, during a Christmas Eve gathering in Jefferson County in 1993.
The state attorney general's office wrote that trial testimony showed Borden,
who was separated from his wife, brought their 3 children to the gathering at
Harris' house after a weeklong visit. As his estranged wife was helping to move
the children's belongings, Jeffrey Borden shot her in the back of the head in
front of their kids, state attorneys said.
An attorney for Borden said previously that the Alabama inmate is mentally ill
after a head injury and had a diminished ability to control himself or
understand the full implications of his actions.
(source: Associated Press)
Death penalty possible for man accused of killing pregnant girlfriend
A man has been indicted on several counts of aggravated murder in the case of a
pregnant woman found dead in Goshen Township.
Natasha Wilson and her unborn child were found dead in Wilson's home the
morning of Aug. 30.
Steven Todd Mages has been indicted on a slew of charges in the case, including
3 counts of aggravated murder, all of which include the death penalty
specification. Other charges include attempted murder, 2 counts of kidnapping,
domestic violence, and grand theft of a motor vehicle.
Mages' bond was set at $3 million.
(source: Fox News)
Man prosecutors say killed Southport police officer appears in court on death
The man accused in the shooting death of Southport Police Officer Lt. Aaron
Allan is waiting to learn if his own life will be in the balance.
Marion County Sheriff's deputies escorted Jason Brown to court for a hearing
Monday morning on the prosecutor's request for the death penalty. Brown kept
his head down as the deputies escorted him to court.
Superior Criminal Court Judge Sheila Carlisle heard the formal motion filed by
prosecutors asking for a death penalty trial. If granted, the death penalty
trial would happen if Brown is found guilty during his murder trial. A jury
would have the responsibility of deciding if he should receive a death
Monday morning's hearing lasted only a few minutes.
"The judge just pretty much advised him of the filing that the state made, read
it to him. He already knew about it and that was pretty much it," said Brown's
attorney Denise Turner said.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced last week he would seek a
capital punishment. Curry believes there are enough aggravating circumstances
to warrant the death penalty.
Court documents filed by Curry's office say when Lt. Allan tried to rescue
Brown from his overturned car, Brown opened fire on the Southport officer.
Brown's family attended the hearing, seeing him for the 1st time since the
"I am trying to get my client and his family through it," said Turner.
After the hearing, the judge ordered Brown returned immediately to the
Department of Correction for safety reasons.
Eyewitness News asked his attorney why Brown remained so subdued in court.
"That's a tough question. That's hard to describe. He has never been in any
kind of trouble before," Turner said.
Turner also expressed sympathy for the Allan family in the wake of his death as
a police officer and public servant. She is working to put together a defense
team to help her defend Brown.
(source: WTHR news)
Former death row inmate advocates in Carter County
Former death row inmate Ray Krone was in Carter County recently to talk about
being sentenced to death in Arizona for a crime he didn't commit. Krone was
later cleared by DNA evidence. Submitted photo.
On a recent night at the Carter County Public Library, Ray Krone told his story
of being convicted and sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit in the
state of Arizona.
Krone, who spent 10 years in prison for murder, was spared the death penalty
when DNA testing exonerated him. After 3 years on death row, innocence proven,
Krone endeavored to take his story to the forefront of the fight to abolish the
death penalty. Partnering with anti-death penalty advocate Sister Jean Prejean
in 2003, the Witness to Innocence organization was founded.
The organization is led by innocent death row survivors, and their loved ones,
to bring an anti-death penalty message to the forefront of society and
There was a meet and greet prior to Krone sharing his story with the guests.
"We should have a sense of protection, and safety and security in our country
when we didn't do anything wrong," Krone stated. "They took me downtown in an
interrogation room for 3 hours and grilled me," he added.
Krone was a patron at the bar where the murder victim in question was employed.
Krone went after work with his teammates to the bar to practice throwing darts.
The murder victim also played darts with Krone and his friends, but was never
romantically involved. However, a co-worker said the victim was dating Krone.
This led police to Krone's home for questioning. Within a very short time,
Krone had hair and blood samples taken for testing.
"They said you're under arrest for murder," Krone said, describing the day of
his arrest. This began his 10-year quest to prove his innocence. Krone credits
the advances in DNA testing and technology for saving his life.
After further testing, the DNA evidence on the clothing of the victim matched
the DNA of another person within the database. This proved his innocence, which
he had maintained throughout his entire travail.
Krone previously supported the death penalty before the circumstances that led
to his harrowing story. The experience has caused him to shift his focus
towards a movement that he hopes will bring about the abolishment of the death
penalty. Krone was the 100th person exonerated from the death penalty since its
reinstatement. Krone, and Witness to Innocence, are touring Kentucky to bring
their message to the people of the Bluegrass State. The event was sponsored by
the American Civil Liberties Union, the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death
Penalty and Witness to Innocence. A book is being written about Krone, entitled
"Jingle Jangle," authored by Jim Rix. For more information about Krone and
Witness to Innocence, visit witnesstoinnocence.org.
(source: Daily Independent)
Federal Death Penalty Trial Starts For Ailing Inmate In Springfield
A death penalty trial has started for an ailing man charged with an attack at a
federal prison hospital in Missouri that killed one fellow inmate and injured
The Springfield News-Leader reports that 61-year-old Ulysses Jones Jr. went on
trial last week on charges of using a makeshift knife to kill 38-year-old
Timothy Baker as he slept in 2006 at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal
Prisoners in Springfield. Court records say the other inmate survived.
Defense attorney Thomas Carver says Jones is slowly dying of end-stage renal
disease. Jones already is serving a life sentence for 2 robberies and murders
in 1979 and 1980 in Washington, D.C.
Baker, who is from Ohio, had served about 1/2 of his 6-year sentence for a
cocaine-related conviction when he was killed.
(source: Associated Press
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