Two US states set to execute oldest death row inmates

(Houston) Texas and Tennessee, two states in the American South, are preparing to execute their oldest prisoners on death Thursday, despite appeals for clemency from opponents of the death penalty.

Posted at 12:00 p.m.
Updated at 2:18 p.m.

François PICARD with Inès BEL AIBA in Washington
France Media Agency

Carl Buntion, 78, was convicted of killing a police officer in Texas more than thirty years ago. Oscar Smith, 72, was convicted in Tennessee for the 1989 murder of his estranged wife and her two sons.

Carl Buntion’s lawyers told AFP that they had filed a final appeal with the United States Supreme Court. If their request is denied, the septuagenarian will be put to death by lethal injection after 6 p.m. local time (7 p.m. EDT).


photo via Associated Press

Carl Wayne Buntion

All of Oscar Smith’s appeals have also been dismissed so far. His lawyers have also made a final appeal to the Supreme Court. If performed well, at 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. EDT), it will be the first in Tennessee since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“After careful consideration of Oscar Smith’s clemency application and careful review of the case, the State of Tennessee’s sentence will stand and I will not interfere,” the Tennessee governor said Tuesday. , Bill Lee.

An “extremely disappointing” decision for Mr. Smith’s lawyer.

The latter “claims his innocence for more than thirty years”, told CNN Amy Harwell, who claims that new DNA analysis techniques on the murder weapon prove his denials.


Photo Tennessee Department of Correction, provided by Associated Press

oscar smith

While waiting to be fixed on his fate, Oscar Smith chose his last meal, prison authorities said. A double bacon cheeseburger, apple pie and vanilla ice cream.

” More dangerous ”

Carl Buntion’s defenders do not seek to prove his innocence. But in Texas, a large conservative state in the South, the most executed in the United States, a person can only be sentenced to death if a jury finds that he poses a future danger to others.

However, Carl Buntion, who suffers in particular from osteoarthritis, dizziness, hepatitis and cirrhosis, “can no longer be dangerous”, pleaded his lawyers in an appeal, since rejected, with the commission of pardons and releases Texas conditionals.

“Last Wednesday prison officials took Carl Buntion to hospital where he complained of chest pain. He was diagnosed with pneumonia. On the way back to death row, the van suddenly stopped and Carl suffered a head injury,” tweeted Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun known for her fight against capital punishment.

In June 1990, this man, raised by an alcoholic and violent father, had already been convicted 13 times and was on parole for a sexual assault on a child.

During an intervention for a common traffic violation in Houston, Carl Buntion had shot and killed policeman James Irby.

Sentenced to the death penalty, he had seen this verdict overturned in 2009 by the highest Texas court, which had considered that the defense had not been able to be properly heard by the jurors.

But in 2012, he was again sentenced to death.

Carl Buntion has been isolated in his cell 23 hours a day for 20 years.

Last year, the US Supreme Court refused to reverse his conviction, but the progressive judge Stephen Breyer considered that the duration of his confinement called into question the constitutionality of the death penalty.

After that of Carl Buntion, the execution of Melissa Lucio, accused of having killed her 2-year-old daughter in 2007, is scheduled for April 27.

Sentenced after a controversial trial, she is supported by many elected Democrats and Republicans, as well as reality TV star Kim Kardashian, who helped publicize what her defenders call a miscarriage of justice.

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