The oldest death row inmate in Texas has been executed for killing a Houston police officer during a traffic stop nearly 32 years ago.
Carl Buntion, 78, was condemned over the fatal shooting of 37-year-old Houston police officer James Irby, a near 20-year member of the force, in June 1990.
The US Supreme Court had declined a request by Buntion’s attorneys to stop his execution which took place at the state penitentiary in Huntsville.
With his execution, Buntion became the oldest person Texashas put to death since the Supreme Court lifted its ban on capital punishment in 1976.
While strapped to the Texas death chamber gurney, Buntion said: “I wanted the Irby family to know one thing: I do have remorse for what I did.
“I pray to God that they get the closure for me killing their father and Mrs Irby’s husband.
“I hope to see you in heaven some day and when you show up I will give you a big hug.”
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- Death Row
Buntion was injected with the lethal dose of the powerful sedative, pentobarbital. He was pronounced dead at 6.39pm, 13 minutes later.
He was ‘a cancer on the face of my family’
Several dozen motorcyclists, showing support for the shot motorcycle officer, loudly revved their engines as the execution took place, the roar clearly audible in the death chamber.
Mr Irby’s widow, 60-year-old Maura, said: “I feel joy” 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.”
Speaking about her husband, she said: “I still miss him, 32 years later”, on Thursday night.
Buntion had been on parole for just six weeks when he shot the Mr Irby.
Buntion, who had an extensive criminal record, was a passenger in the car that Mr Irby pulled over.
Before he was killed, Mr Irby had talked of retirement and spending more time with his two children, who at the time were one and three years old, Maura Irby said earlier.
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 had rejected his clemency request on Tuesday.
Buntion was also the first inmate executed in Texas in 2022. Although Texas has been America’s busiest capital punishment state, it had been nearly seven months since it carried out an execution.
The oldest inmate executed in the US in modern times was Walter Moody Jr, who was 83 years old when he was put to death in Alabama in 2018.