TEXAS (KXAN) — The Supreme Court has ordered a new court hearing for a Texas prison inmate who claims improper testimony about his race led to his death sentence.
The justices voted 6-to-2 in favor of Duane Buck. He was sentenced to death for killing his ex-girlfriend and another man at her Houston apartment in 1995.
During the trial in 1997, defense expert witness Walter Quijano told jurors Buck was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black. Buck tried for years to get a new hearing claiming that the testimony violated his rights.
In 2001, Buck was almost executed before justices stepped in with a last minute reprieve. A court later denied Buck a full review of his case in 2014.
The Supreme Court decision ruled that the federal appeals court that heard Buck’s case was wrong to deny him a hearing.
Buck’s case was among six in 2000 that then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, now a Republican U.S. senator, said needed to be reopened because of racially charged statements made during the trial sentencing phase. In the other five cases, new punishment hearings were held and each convict again was sentenced to death.