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Monday, October 24, 2016

If the state of Texas executes Duane Buck, it’ll be because he is black.

Well, mainly it will be because in 1995, he shot his ex-girlfriend, Debra Gardner, and her friend, Kenneth Butler, to death at Gardner’s Houston home, and also wounded his own stepsister, Phyllis Taylor. But it will also be because he’s black.

In Texas, they have this rule: A jury contemplating the death penalty must evaluate the likelihood a defendant poses a future danger to the community. Jurors in Buck’s trial were told he poses said danger because he is a black man.

Mind you, this came from a defense witness, whose ultimate finding was that Buck himself represented little danger. But, said psychologist Dr. Walter Quijano, “It’s a sad commentary that minorities, Hispanics and black people are overrepresented in the criminal justice system.”

When asked by the prosecutor whether “the race factor, black, increases the future dangerousness,” Quijano answered, “Yes.”

So Buck sits on death row awaiting an appeals court ruling on his bid for a new sentencing hearing. Not a new trial, you understand. No one disputes his guilt — or the monstrousness of his crime. But about the sentence, there is plenty dispute, enough that his surviving victim and Linda Geffin, a prosecutor who helped convict him, both think he should get a new hearing. In 2000, Sen. John Cornyn, then Texas attorney general, identified six capital cases, including Buck’s, in which Quijano gave similar testimony and conceded the state erred in allowing race to be used as a sentencing factor.

The other five defendants — all black or Hispanic — received new sentencing hearings. All were re-sentenced to death. Buck was denied a new hearing.

Why? Bucks’ attorney, Christina Swarns, director of the Criminal Justice Project at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, says the only explanation she’s heard “is it’s because Quijano was called as a defense witness. That would sound like a plausible explanation, if not that Quijano was called as a defense witness in two of the other cases in which they did concede error.”

  • charleo1

    You’re not about to witness an execution, you are about to witness a murder. I am strapped down for something Marcus Rhodes did. I never killed anybody, ever. I love you, Mom. I love you, Tali. This is wrong. This whole thing is wrong. I can’t believe you are going to let Marcus Rhodes walk around free. Justice has let me down. Somebody completely screwed this up. I love you too, Mom. Well Warden, if you are going to murder someone, go ahead and do it. Pull the trigger. It’s coming. I can feel it coming. Goodbye.

  • charleo1

    On 05/02/2001, in The Colony, Texas, Woods and 1 co-defendant used a 380 caliber pistol, a 45 caliber pistol, and a knife to kill a 21 year old white male victim by shooting the victim 6 times in the head and cutting his neck 4 times. A 19 year old white female victim was also killed by receiving 2 shots to the head, 1 shot in the knee, and cutting her throat. Woods and the co-defendant took property from the victims which included their car keys, backpacks, a cell phone and other personal items.

  • David Turrentine

    If a state could be convicted of murder and executed for it, Texas should be it

    • Perhaps, but the fact of the matter is that he’s guilty and deserves to be executed. I read up on the case, and while I will be more than willing to concede that Texas is a national embarrassment, in this instance the sentence is justified.

      • Kevin

        Justice is a question of equal rights. If a black man is more likely to get the death sentence than a white man simply for being black the sentence is not justified. Why should the white guy get off?

        Mind you, there is actually no moral justification for killing someone once they are no longer a danger to the community.

  • Sand_Cat

    Well, they decided to kill the others, anyway. What do you expect in Texas?

  • America’s past is drtipping with the criminalization of many ethnicites it found “undesirable”. The Irish, the African, the Jew, the German, and the Italian. Yet, it is the African who has had the longest and most sordid criminalization even by those who were formerly criminalized. It was done long in the past of American history, and made law by the United States Constitution itself. Within the center of the Reconstructive Amendment 13 is a smoking gun. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude EXCEPT AS A PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME WHEREOF THE PARTY SHALL HAVE BEEN DULY CONVICTED shall exist in the United States or any place subject to its jurisdiction.” The three code words inherent in the preamble that intends to emancipate Africans continued their enslavement by punishing them for the slightest thing considered a crime and unduly convicting them, reenslaving them to prisons where they were worked to death on plantations, coal mines, railroads, and chain gangs. They were sold by mayors, police chiefs, counselpeople, judges, and wardens for their free labor. many were never seen again because they were worked to death. This very same reenslavement exists still today under the guise of deprivation, disadvantage, disparagement, and discrimination. Duane Buck was a victim of this mean manipulation: uneducated, ignorant, and prone to violence because of the violence exacted upon him and saw no other way to solve a problem. This manipulation has been going on and has affected all of us for 148 years. If you don’t believe me and think this is a conspiracy theory, read the history.

  • “Moreover, it is specious in the extreme to act as if poverty, crime and ignorance are some natural outgrowth of blackness. They are not. They were imposed upon black people by generations of oppressive law, policy and custom.”

    CRIME has been imposed on Black people?

    The author is a moron.

    • Kevin

      Actually, to some extent this is true. Crime is not as simple as it may seem. What a culture decides is “criminal” depends on a lot of factors. Street crimes are represented at a much higher rate because most street crime occurs in low-income, low-wealth, and impoverished areas. What people do in these areas tend to be labeled as “criminal.” Also, poorer people have less privacy, thus more chance of being caught by the cops. People who live in these areas tend to be associated with what people do in these areas (an important distinction). Just because a black man is poor and lives in the inner city it does not mean he is a criminal, but often people (generally white) automatically associate, and label, these men as criminals. In this way “crime” is imposed on black people. These preconceived notions get black people harsher sentences, while white people are let off more easily.

  • Kevin

    Shaw Eberhardt: Why is it that so few white people get the death penalty who do just as horrific crimes? White people are just, more friendly– right? No. White people are racist in a way that may not be intentional, but it is ignorant.

  • darrell nelson

    Which laws like this make Al Qeada, a welcomeing