Texas executed oldest death row inmate despite mobilization

UNITED STATES – Texas, in the southern United States, executed its oldest death row inmate Thursday, April 21, more than thirty years after the murder he was convicted of committing, despite pleas for a pardon from death penalty opponents.

Carl Pontion, 78, received a lethal injection at 6:24 p.m. local time in Huntsville Prison, Texas, before his death was announced at 6:39 p.m. (1:39 a.m. Paris time), according to a document from Texas Prison Services.

Tennessee, which was due to hand the death penalty to the oldest person on death row on Thursday, postponed his execution at the last minute, according to a tweet from Gov. Bill Lee.

Implementation is not the solution.

“I regret what I did,” said Karl Bunton in his last words. “I’m ready to go.” Authorities said a “spiritual guide” was able to stand by and touch him during the execution, for the first time in Texas.

In front of the high, red-brick walls of Huntsville Prison, a few protesters chanted “Execution is not the answer,” while dozens, on the contrary, gathered to support it, an AFP reporter noted at once.

The victim’s family also attended the policeman. Lawyers for Carl Pontion told AFP that they filed a final appeal to the US Supreme Court, but to no avail.

He was sentenced 13 times

Defenders of Carl Buntion no longer seek to prove his innocence. But in Texas, a large conservative state in the south, and the most executed in the United States, a person can only be sentenced to death if a jury rules that he poses a future danger to others.

However, Carl Pontion, who especially suffered from osteoporosis, dizziness, hepatitis and cirrhosis, “is no longer a danger,” appealed to his attorney in an appeal, which has since been rejected, with a pardon and a conditional Texas release.

In June 1990, this man, who was raised by an alcoholic and violent father, had already been convicted 13 times and was released on parole for child sexual abuse. While intervening in a common traffic violation in Houston, Carl Pontion shot and killed police officer James Irby.

Isolated in his cell 23 hours a day for 20 years

Sentenced to death, he had seen that sentence overturned in 2009 by the highest court in Texas, which held that the defense had not been properly heard by the jury.

But in 2012, he was again sentenced to death. Karl Pontion was confined to his cell 23 hours a day for 20 years.

Last year, the US Supreme Court refused to retract his conviction, but progressive judge Stephen Breyer held that the length of his imprisonment called into question the constitutionality of the death penalty.

More executions to come

In Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee announced Thursday afternoon that Oscar Smith would not be executed that evening “due to omissions in preparation for lethal injection,” and granted a “temporary reprieve” pending resolution of the matter.

Oscar Smith, 72, was convicted of the 1989 murders of his estranged wife and two children. All of Oscar Smith’s appeals to date have been denied. His lawyers filed a final appeal to the Supreme Court.

“Following a thorough review of Oscar Smith’s pardon application and a careful review of the case, the Tennessee ruling will remain in effect and I will not intervene,” Bill Lee said on Tuesday.

The decision was then deemed “extremely disappointing” to Oscar Smith’s lawyer. The latter “claims his innocence for more than thirty years,” he told CNN’s Amy Harwell, who claims new DNA analysis techniques on the murder weapon prove his denial.

In Texas, Karl Pontion’s execution should follow, scheduled for April 27, of Melissa Lucio, accused of killing her two-year-old daughter in 2007. Sentenced after a contentious trial, she is supported by many elected Democrats and Republicans, as well as a star Reality TV star Kim Kardashian, who helped popularize what advocates call an abortion of justice.

See also on The HuffPost: A Texas couple survived a hurricane by hiding in a bathtub

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