The U.S. Supreme Court will soon consider whether to hear the Texas case of Duane Buck, who was sentenced to die in 1997 for shooting his ex-girlfriend Debra Gardner and her friend Kenneth Butler, reported the The Marshall Project.
His small army of advocates don’t dispute his guilt but argue he is facing the harshest possible punishment primarily “because he is black.”
At his trial, Walter Quijano, a psychologist called by the defense, told jurors that Buck was more likely to commit a violent crime again because of his race. (Death sentences in Texas require that a defendant be judged a “continuing threat to society.”) Quijano later told The Texas Tribune he was describing a statistical relationship, and not a causal connection between race and violence, but Buck’s lawyers say his comments tainted the jury’s decision.
Many historians (including David Oshinsky last week in the Wall Street Journal) see the contemporary death penalty as the latest stage in a history that stretches back to lynchings, pointing out that most executions continue to take place in the states of the former Confederacy. “We’ve used the death penalty to sustain racial hierarchy by making it primarily a tool to reinforce the victimization of white people,” the lawyer Bryan Stevenson told The Marshall Project last year. Rachel Aviv’s New Yorker story on the Louisiana case of Rodricus Crawford made prominent mention of the Confederate flag inscribed on a stone slab outside the courthouse during his trial.
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