Racist Testimony Reduces Texas Inmate's Death Sentence to Life in Prison


  • Texas Department of Criminal Justice
  • Duane Buck
A Harris County court has reduced convicted murderer Duane Buck's sentence to life in prison, twenty years after racist testimony stuck him on death row.

Buck was found guilty in 1995 of killing his ex-girlfriend and her friend in Houston. In his 1997 trial, a prison psychiatrist told the jury that Buck would be more dangerous in the future because of his race. Thus, the jury slapped him with a death sentence.

Buck, 54, appealed the discriminatory testimony all the way to the Supreme Court — and won the right to a retrial in Harris County. Instead of starting anew with decades-old case, the Harris County District Attorney's office reached a plea deal with Buck, sentencing him to two terms of 60 years in prison for attempted murder in exchange for dropping the death penalty sentence.

“After reviewing the evidence and the law, I have concluded that, twenty-two years after his conviction, a Harris County jury would likely not return another death penalty conviction in a case that has forever been tainted by the indelible specter of race,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Buck's plea deal was the third successful death penalty appeal in Harris County settled with a plea bargain under Ogg.

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