Supremes Give Death Row Inmate Another Chance
Supreme Court orders new trial for South Carolina death row inmate, ruling state courts erred by excluding evidence that another man may have committed the crime
In other court news, U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Hoyt on April 28 overturned the capital murder conviction of Carl Wayne Buntion, who was convicted and sentenced to death in Harris Co. for the 1991 murder of motorcycle cop James Irby. Buntion shot Irby with a .357-caliber Magnum after being pulled over for a minor traffic violation; he does not deny that he killed Irby but argues that he did so in self-defense. Last week, Hoyt ruled that Harris Co. trial Judge Bill Harmon violated Buntion's right to a fair trial by bullying his lawyers, holding unlawful, private meetings with prosecutors, and making remarks in open court regarding Buntion's guilt including that he was "doing God's work" by seeing that Buntion would be executed, reports the Houston Chronicle. "Judge Harmon decided that Buntion was guilty and should die," before ever hearing any evidence, Hoyt wrote.
The Texas Attorney General's Office has until the end of the month to appeal the ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.