Texas governor Rick Perry did not halt the execution of Duane Buck on Thursday evening but the US Supreme Court stepped in and did the job for him. It was ruled that Buck should have one last chance to enter a full plea to try to get his death sentence commuted to life in prison.
Buck was convicted of killing his former girlfriend and a man. His guilt is not contested, but the jury that awarded the death penalty was reportedly told that black men have a higher likelihood of reoffending if they are ever reintroduced to society. It is on the basis of this testimony that Buck’s lawyers called for a halt to the execution. A number of other prisoners have been awarded resentencing hearings as a result of similar evidence, but Buck had so far not been given the same chance.
Rick Perry was reportedly at an out of state fundraising event for his presidential campaign when the key decisions were made. For his supporters, the news of Buck’s reprieve will reinforce the idea of Perry as a tough man who shows no mercy. For his detractors, the decision will raise questions about the governor’s judgement. Perry has so far made no comment about the Supreme Court’s decision.