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HOUSTON (AP) — Texas’ oldest death row inmate faces execution 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 Houston police officer James Irby, a nearly 20-year member of the force.

Buntion had been on parole for just six weeks when he shot the 37-year-old Irby. Buntion, who had an extensive criminal record, was a passenger in the car Irby pulled over. In 2009, an appeals court vacated Buntion’s sentence, but another jury resentenced him to death three years later.

Before his death, James Irby had talked of retirement and spending more time with his two children, who were 1 and 3 years old at the time, said his wife, Maura Irby.

“He was ready to fill out the paperwork and stay home and open a feed store,” Maura Irby, 60, said. “He wanted to be the dad that was there to go to all the ballgames and the father-daughter dances. He was a super guy, the love of my life.”

Buntion’s attorneys on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his execution. Various state and federal courts have already turned down similar appeals. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Tuesday rejected his clemency request.

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

But they argue his execution would be unconstitutional because the jury’s finding he would be a future danger to society — one of the reasons he was sentenced to death — has proven incorrect. Also, they said, his execution would serve no legitimate purpose because so much time has passed since his conviction. His attorneys describe Buntion as a geriatric inmate who poses no threat as he suffers from arthritis, vertigo and needs a wheelchair.

“This delay of three decades undermines the rationale for the death penalty … Whatever deterrent effect there is diminished by delay,” his attorneys David Dow and Jeffrey Newberry, wrote in court documents.

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

Source: Huff Post

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