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EXECUTION CARRIED OUT 2022 – TEXAS – CARL WAYNE BUNTION – APRIL 21, 2022


Huntsville, Texas — Texas’ oldest death row inmate was executed Thursday for killing a Houston police officer during a traffic stop nearly 32 years ago.

Carl Wayne Buntion, 78, was put to death at the state penitentiary in Huntsville. He was condemned for the June 1990 fatal shooting of Houston police officer James Irby, a nearly 20-year member of the force.

The U.S. Supreme Court had declined a request by Buntion’s attorneys to stop his execution.

“I wanted the Irby family to know one thing: I do have remorse for what I did,” Buntion said while strapped to the Texas death chamber gurney. “I pray to God that they get the closure for me killing their father and Ms. Irby’s husband.

“I hope to see you in heaven some day and when you show up I will give you a big hug.”

Buntion, joined by his spiritual adviser, began praying Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd…” as the lethal dose of the powerful sedative pentobarbital began. He took a deep breath, coughed once, then took three less pronounced breaths before all movement stopped.

He was pronounced dead at 6:39 p.m., 13 minutes later.

Several dozen motorcyclists, showing support for the slain motorcycle officer, loudly revved their engines as the execution took place, the roar clearly audible in the death chamber.

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 that Irby pulled over. In 2009, an appeals court vacated Buntion’s sentence, but another jury resentenced him to death three years later.

“I feel joy,” the officer’s widow, Maura Irby, said after watching Buntion’s execution. “I’m sorry someone died. But I didn’t think of him as a person. I just thought of him as a thing, as a cancer on the face of my family.”

Before his slaying, James Irby had talked of retirement and spending more time with his two children, who at the time were 1 and 3 years old, Maura Irby, 60, said earlier.

“He was ready to fill out the paperwork and stay home and open a feed store,” she 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.”

Leading up to his execution, various state and federal courts had also turned down appeals by Buntion’s lawyers to stop his death sentence. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Tuesday had rejected his clemency request.

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

But they argued his execution was unconstitutional because the jury’s finding he would be a future danger to society – one of the reasons he was given a death sentence- has proven incorrect, and also his execution would serve no legitimate purpose because so much time has passed since his conviction. His attorneys described Buntion as a geriatric inmate who posed no threat as he suffered from arthritis, vertigo and needed 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.

With his execution, Buntion became 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.

Buntion was also the first inmate executed in Texas in 2022. Although Texas has been the nation’s busiest capital punishment state, it had been nearly seven months since it carried out an execution. There have been only three executions in each of the last two years, due in part to the coronavirus pandemic and delays over legal questions about Texas’ refusal to allow spiritual advisers to touch inmates and pray aloud in the death chamber.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court said states must accommodate requests to have faith leaders pray and touch inmates during executions.

As Texas prepared to execute Buntion, officials in Tennessee canceled the execution of an inmate Thursday in what would have been the state’s first execution since the start of the pandemic. Oscar Smith, 72, was scheduled to die for the 1989 killings of his estranged wife and her teenage sons. Republican Gov. Bill Lee didn’t elaborate on what issue forced the surprise 11th-hour stop to the planned execution.

Texas prison officials agreed to Buntion’s request to allow his spiritual adviser to pray aloud and touch him while he was put to death.

The adviser, Barry Brown, placed his right hand on Buntion’s right ankle in the moments before the drugs began flowing and prayed for about five minutes. He said Buntion no longer was a “hard-headed young man” but had been “humbled by the walls and cold steel of prison.”

While the execution stirred up painful memories for her, Irby said it also reminded her of her advocacy work in public safety after her husband’s death, including helping put together legislation that allowed victim impact statements at trials.

“I still miss him, 32 years later,” she said Thursday night.

Execution carried out 2022- OKLAHOMA Donald Grant – JANV. 27.2022


McALESTER, Okla. — An Oklahoma man who had offered to be executed by firing squad was put to death by lethal injection Thursday morning, officials said.

Donald Anthony Grant, 46, was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m. CT at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, a state corrections spokesman announced.

The execution began at 10:03 a.m., and Grant was declared unconscious at 10:08 a.m. before his death at 10:16 a.m., Corrections Department Director Scott Crow said.

There were 18 witnesses, including news reporters, prosecutors, a police chief and loved ones of Grant and his victims.

Grant’s disjointed final words lasted two minutes before a prison staff member in the execution chamber stopped him and cut off the microphone.

“Grant’s last words were “yo God I got this, I got this, it’s nothing” before saying “I’ve got things to handle, no doubt, no doubt.” He also said “Brooklyn for life” among his other chants. Grant reportedly grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised in and out of various foster homes.

Grant kept speaking after the microphone was turned off, looking toward his family members sitting in the front row of the witness room.

At one point, tears appeared to be rolling down his face.

Grant killed Brenda McElyea, 29, and Felicia Suzette Smith, 43, so there would be no witnesses to his robbery at the La Quinta Inn in Del City in July 2001.

LAST MEALGrant, the first person to be given the death penalty in 2022.

After requesting a very large meal, the inmate was given a lethal injection, currently the only approved method in Oklahoma. Grant’s menu included sesame chicken, six egg rolls, shrimp fried rice and a large apple fritter. If there was no dessert, Grant asked for three pints of strawberry ice cream. 

Texas claims it’s ‘too late’ for DNA testing which could get inmate off death row


October 10, 2022

Featured Image Credit: AP/Shutterstock/Paul Weber

The state of Texas is fighting to dismiss a civil rights suit arguing for DNA testing which could prove the innocence of a death row inmate.

Rodney Reed was sentenced to death in 1998 for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites in Bastrop, Texas, and remains on death row as he continues to maintain his innocence.

Stites was just 19 at the the time of her death, and was found dead along a country road. She had been engaged to a man named Jimmy Fennell, a police officer in the neighbouring town, and had allegedly introduced Reed to her co-worker, Suzen Hugan, as a friend.

Hugan told The Intercept Stites was ‘flirty’ with Reed, saying “it seemed like more than a friendship,” however Texas claims Reed was actually a stranger to Stites. 

After Stites was killed, sperm evidence recovered from her body was matched to Reed. An investigation by law enforcement uncovered no evidence that the pair knew each other, though Reed claims he and Stites were having an affair and that the DNA was from a consensual encounter.

Meanwhile, Fennell has been accused by some as having known about the alleged affair. He has denied the claims.

Over his years on death row, Reed has argued for the testing of crime scene evidence, including the alleged murder weapon, however reluctance on post-conviction DNA testing in the state has made things tough for the inmate.

In 2019, Reed took the case to federal court with the argument that Texas violated his due process rights by denying his bid for forensic testing, but the state is trying to get the suit dismissed with the argument that Reed waited too long to file his federal claim.

Texas is using the statute of limitations to argue its side, claiming Reed had a two-year window to file his federal claim after he was first denied DNA testing in 2014.

However, Reed has argued that filing earlier would have meant filing before the Court of Criminal Appeals had considered his case, meaning he would not have a final decision in the matter on which to base his suit.

It wasn’t until 2017 that the CCA issued its final ruling, and Reed’s suit was filed less than two years later.

Texas, meanwhile, argues Reed should have brought the case in the two years after 2014 because there is ‘no provision of Texas law’ that required him to appeal to the CCA.

As the battle continues, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the state, meaning the Supreme Court is now set to hear the case on 11 October.

Advocates fight for Oklahoma inmate weeks before scheduled execution


October 10, 2022

Advocates continue to fight for the life of Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Fairchild.

Fairchild is scheduled to be executed on Nov. 17. He has a clemency hearing with the Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board Wednesday morning.

Fairchild has sat on death row for nearly 30 years. He was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son in Del City in 1993.

According to his legal team, Fairchild suffers from multiple mental illnesses and is unfit to be executed.

Rev. Don Heath works with the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He spoke at a press conference Friday discussing the fight to save Fairchild’s life.

“Richie Fairchild has been a model prisoner and has repeatedly expressed remorse for killing Adam Broomhall,” Heath said. “He is 62 years old and suffers from brain damage. He already has served 25 years in prison for his crime and is asking to be allowed to die in prison of natural causes instead of by poisoning by the state. This case cries out for mercy and forgiveness.”

Additional petitions are scheduled to be delivered to Gov. Kevin Stitt a few days before Fairchild’s scheduled execution. If the Pardon and Parole Board recommends clemency, Gov. Stitt will have the final say.

Texas: Woman convicted of killing 21-year-old mother-to-be and cutting baby from her womb


Texas, 10.04.2022

Prosecutors told the court that Reagan Michelle Simmons-Hancock was beaten in the head at least five times with such force that the blows compressed her skull.

Taylor Rene Parker 

A woman is facing the death penalty after being found guilty of killing a 21-year-old and cutting her unborn baby from her womb.

Taylor Rene Parker has been convicted of the October 2020 murder of Reagan Michelle SimmonsHancock in Texas and the kidnapping of her daughter, who later died.

The 29-year-old was found to have beaten the young expectant mother in the head at least five times, before “cutting her abdomen, hip to hip” to remove her baby.

The guilty verdict came after three weeks of testimony at Bowie County in northeast Texas, where Parker’s attorneys moved to dismiss the kidnapping charge in a bid to have a capital murder charge lowered to murder.

They argued that the baby was never alive and therefore could not be abducted, but prosecutors said several medical professionals testified that she had a heartbeat when she was born.

“We have methodically laid out what she (Parker) did, why she did it, all the moving parts, and all the collateral damage,” said prosecutor Kelley Crisp.

The court heard how Parker faked being pregnant in the lead up to the killing, with the assistant district attorney Lauren Richards describing her as a “liar” and a “manipulator”.

It was no quick death’

In gruesome detail, Ms Richards recounted Parker’s attack on Ms Simmons-Hancock, saying the young woman was still alive after having her baby cut from her womb.

“She can’t leave her alive. It was no quick death. She just kept cutting her. I guess Reagan would not die fast enough for Taylor to get out of there and get on with her plans,” she said.

Parker’s sentencing, known in the US as the punishment phase, is set to begin on 12 October.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, but jurors may opt for a sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

Outcomes of Death Warrants in 2022


September 30.2022 Update

Executions and Stays 2022

48 execution dates have been scheduled by 9 states for 2022.
To date, there have been 10 executions by 5 states.
10 executions have been stayed.*
No executions have been halted by commutation.
16 executions have been halted by reprieve.
1 warrant has been withdrawn/removed/vacated/rescheduled.
1 failed execution was halted when execution personnel were unable to set an IV line.
1 prisoner has died on death row while his warrant was pending.
9 death warrants are pending.^

Execution warrant sought for Nevada death row inmate Zane Floyd


As lawmakers weigh the future of capital punishment in Nevada, Clark County prosecutors plan to seek a warrant of execution for a death row inmate.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, deputies from District Attorney Steve Wolfson’s appellate division could ask a judge to sign the paperwork for Zane Floyd in the coming weeks.

The 45-year-old Floyd was convicted of killing four people and wounding another inside a Las Vegas supermarket in June 1999.

The Review-Journal reports that Floyd’s federal appeals were exhausted last November. However, a bill introduced in the state Assembly would make Nevada the 24th state to abolish the death penalty and the sentences of 70 men on Death Row would be commuted to life in prison. 

Zane Floyd

Texas’ highest criminal court tosses death sentence of Raymond Riles, state’s longest-serving death row inmate


Riles has been deemed mentally incompetent for execution repeatedly in his decades on death row.

April 14, 2021

Raymond Riles has been on Texas’ death row longer than anyone else, first sent there in 1976. Despite several execution dates being set, he has repeatedly been deemed mentally incompetent to be put to death, instead lingering on the row and the prison’s psychiatric units for more than 45 years. At one point, he set himself on fire and was hospitalized for months.

Raymond Riles

On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals tossed his death sentence.

The state court sent his case back to Harris County to again determine his punishment because the jury wasn’t instructed to weigh his mental illness when deciding between a punishment of life in prison or death. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office, which supported tossing the sentence, did not immediately respond to questions Wednesday as to whether the office would again seek the death penalty. His conviction of capital murder is not changed.

Death penalty data might surprise you


April 13, 2021

For some, an “eye for an eye” is justice. To others, it makes the whole world blind.

Last month, Virginia became the 23rd state to abolish the death penalty, and first to do so in the South — where four times more people are executed than the rest of the U.S. combined. That’s a big change for a state second only to Texas in executions since 1976.

American public opinion is increasingly turning against the death penalty.

A 2020 Gallup Poll found 55 percent of Americans support the death penalty in general, down from a peak of 80 percent in 1994. And for the first time, a majority (60 percent) say life imprisonment without parole is a better punishment for murder than execution.

Seventy percent of nations have ended the practice (although 60 percent of the world’s population live in death penalty nations), according to Amnesty International.

Unlike other issues, this doesn’t fall perfectly along party lines. While Democrats are less likely to support the death penalty over a life sentence, Gallup surveys show the percentage of Republicans who feel the same increased 10 points since 2016. Reasons for opposition are complicated, spanning generational, statistical, and moral grounds.

Fewer executions. According to U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 2010 and 2020 death sentences imposed nationwide numbered fewer than half of the decade before. Some states such as California have it on the books, but rarely use it or have a moratorium now.

Generational shift. The death penalty is one of those issues with an age divide. Gallup polls indicate Americans between 18 and 34 support the death penalty at almost half the rate (24 percent) of their older peers (40 percent).

Racial justice. Young adults also tend to be more passionate about racial justice, especially when it’s so final. A 1990 U.S. Government Accountability Office study found defendants of any race who murdered white people were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered Black people.

Recent studies reported in the New York Times and The Monitor Weekly came to similar conclusions. Latinos, Native Americans and the poor are also disproportionately represented on death row. (A long history of race-dissimilar treatment in the justice system for other crimes was echoed in the oft-cited book, “The New Jim Crowe.”)

Debates in the legislature noted of nearly 1,400 people Virginia executed since 1608, it wasn’t until 1997 that a white man was executed for killing a Black man.

What if they’re innocent? Justice is earnest, but fallible. An average of four people on death row each year in the U.S. are exonerated. History has uncovered others who were exonerated too late. You don’t have to be young to feel the heartbreak in that.

Life in prison is cheaper. Because of high costs associated with capital trials and statutory appeals, life incarceration costs states less than execution. Virginia expects to save $4 million per year. Capital trials may also be more taxing on victims’ families, typically lasting up to four times longer than non-capital trials.

After two Idaho death-row inmates were released from prison in one year, Idaho’s bipartisan Joint Legislative Oversight Committee studied cases between 1998 and 2013. Their 2014 report concluded Idaho death penalty trials take an average seven months longer than non-capital murder trials, and appeals took about 50 percent longer.

Of the 251 defendants charged with first-degree murder during that period, 16 percent faced the death penalty and less than 3 percent received it. Of 40 sentenced to death in Idaho since 1977, three have been executed (21 got a new sentence on appeal). The JLOC reported other states had results similar to Idaho’s.

“Pro-life” consistency. Some conservatives oppose capital punishment on religious or moral grounds. Republican legislators in red states such as Wyoming, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and Missouri have sponsored legislation to abolish it. Pro-life, they reason, applies to every life, not just the innocent unborn. And as death can’t be undone, life’s too precious (or constitutionally protected) to risk a mistake, they say.

Still, Republican majorities remain strongly in favor. Supporters say the death penalty is a just punishment for murder. And while life in prison can feel like a kind of hell, execution is seen as the only way to ensure the convicted will never kill again.

Is it a deterrent? Logic would presume yes, but states with death penalties don’t have lower crime rates. FBI Uniform Crime Report data culled by Deathpenaltyinfo.org indicate murder rates per population in death penalty states were consistently higher than in non-death penalty states between 1990 (4 percent higher) and 2018 (30 percent higher).

Do victims’ families want it? Numbers aside, closure and healing for victims’ families is high priority. Individual circumstances make it hard to gauge. Some ask prosecutors not to seek the death penalty — including a group of victims’ families who lobbied the Virginia Legislature to abolish it. Yet others vehemently want it, saying it’s the only way they can feel closure.

A 2012 study of 40 families by the universities of Texas and Minnesota found families in life-without-parole cases reported being able to move on sooner than those in the death-sentence cases. The death penalty case families said they felt continually retraumatized by the longer process.

Psychological and sociological research on closure suggests the legal process in general isn’t a reliable source to achieve it either way. It can feel symbolic and reassuring to seek justice, but the law doesn’t allow much room for emotion (Bandes, 2008).

This shifting trend is yet another illustration of American society’s impassioned debate with itself. Maybe we aren’t so “hopelessly divided” as we are experiencing growing pains in a rapidly shifting world.

Copiah County man convicted of capital murder will remain on death row


David Dickerson was convicted for the murder of Paula Hamilton in 2012.

A Copiah County man will remain on death row.

The State Supreme Court denied the appeal of 51-year-old David Dickerson. He was convicted for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Paula Hamilton, who was the mother of his daughter.

Mississippi justices reject latest appeal in death row case | WJTV
Dickerson was convicted in 2012 for shooting Paula Hamilton to death and setting her body on fire in Copiah County.
Paula Hamilton

Dickerson shot Hamilton to death and then burned her body. He was convicted of capital murder in 2012.

Dickerson appealed his conviction and death sentence based upon an alleged intellectual disability.

In a mental evaluation, Dickerson was ruled mentally competent to stand trial and doctors said he had no credible symptoms of mental illness according to court documents.

The doctors also said Dickerson was uncooperative and fabricated psychiatric symptoms. His appeal was denied Thursday.