Death Row Inmate Denied Appeal Despite Racial Bias

Duane Buck   
Duane Buck   

In 1997, Duane Buck was convicted of capitol murder for killing his ex-girlfriend and a man in her Houston apartment. During the punishment phase of Buck's trial, a psychologist testified that black people were more likely to commit violence. The jury then sentenced Buck to death, the Associated Press reports.


In 2000, three years after Buck’s trial, then-Texas Attorney General (now U.S. senator) John Cornyn identified seven cases in which the State of Texas relied on testimony linking race to future danger. Buck’s case was one of the seven. All six of those cases have received new sentencing hearings—except for Buck's.

On Wednesday, Texas' highest criminal court rejected an appeal from the convicted killer in which supporters contended that his death sentence was unfairly based on race.

"We are gravely disappointed that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has dismissed Duane Buck's appeal and failed to recognize that his death sentence is the unconstitutional product of racial discrimination," Buck's lead attorney Kate Black; Christina Swarns, director of the criminal justice practice at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; and Kathryn Kase, executive director of Texas Defender Service, said in a statement.

"With today’s decision," they said, "Texas has once again reneged on its promise to ensure that Mr. Buck would not be executed pursuant to a death sentence that was the unfair product of a prosecutorial appeal to racial bias and stereotype."

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, whose office prosecuted Buck, told the Associated Press that they were still reviewing the appeals court's ruling and had no comment.

Buck's legal team said they would take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read more at the Associated Press.