Texas executed oldest death row inmate

Posted on Saturday, April 23, 2022 at 12:14 pm

The state of Texas in the southern United States carried out, Thursday, the oldest prisoner sentenced to death, more than thirty years after the murder for which he was convicted, despite pleas for a pardon by opponents of the death penalty.

Carl Pontion, 78, received a lethal injection at 6:24 p.m. local time in a Huntsville, Texas prison before his death was announced at 6:39 p.m. (2339 GMT), according to a document from the Texas Correctional Services.

Tennessee, which was also due to kill its oldest prisoner on Thursday, postponed the execution at the last minute, according to a tweet from Gov. Bill Lee.

“I regret what I did,” said Karl Pontion 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 solution,” while dozens gathered in support, to the contrary, an AFP reporter immediately noted.

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.

– Appeal rejected –

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

However, Mr. Pontion, who was particularly suffering from osteoporosis, dizziness, hepatitis and cirrhosis, was “no longer a danger”, appealed to his attorney in an appeal, which has since been rejected, to the Texas Pardon and Parole Commission.

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.

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.

– ‘Very disappointing’ –

In Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee said Thursday afternoon that Oscar Smith would not be executed that evening “due to an oversight in preparation for lethal injection,” and granted a “temporary reprieve” pending the matter’s settlement.

Oscar Smith, 72, was convicted of the 1989 murders of his estranged wife and two children.

All of Oscar Smith’s appeals have so far 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 Mr. Smith’s lawyers. 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, Carl Pontion’s execution, scheduled for April 27, should follow that of Melissa Lucio, accused of killing her two-year-old daughter in 2007.

Sentenced after a controversial trial, she is backed by many elected Democrats and Republicans, as well as reality TV star Kim Kardashian, who helped popularize what her advocates call a miscarriage of justice.

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