Texas executed Carl Buntion on Thursday for the 1990 murder of a Houston police officer. At 78, he was the oldest prisoner executed in the state in the modern death penalty era, the Texas Tribune reports. In a statement before his execution told the family of his victim, James Irby, that "I do have remorse for what I did." Buntion's lawyers argued that his age, as well as his decades of good behavior on death row, should have spared him from lethal injection. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a final plea.
"Having lived under a sentence of death for over three decades in a state which keeps its death-row prisoners in solitary confinement, Buntion has been punished to a degree exceeding that inflicted on anyone else outside of a very small number of death-row prisoners,” said defense attorneys David Dow and Jeff Newberry. “No legitimate purpose for the death penalty would be served by carrying out his execution." Nearly 32 years ago, Buntion fatally shot Irby during a traffic stop. Buntion, then 46, had a history of drug-related and violent felonies. There was heroin in the trunk of his car. His execution was held off by prolonged legal fights over how juries should be instructed to weigh mitigating evidence, like mental illness or a troubled childhood, when considering the death penalty. Buntion's father had a history of domestic violence.