Death Penalty Out for TX Man After Race Charges

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Duane Buck, whose death sentence in a 1995 double slaying was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court after allegations of racist testimony from an expert witness, had his sentence reduced to life in prison Tuesday after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors, the Texas Tribune reports. Buck, 54, was sentenced to death after killing his ex-girlfriend and her friend in Houston. Last week, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office added two new charges of attempted murder. Under the agreement, Buck pleaded guilty to those new charges and was sentenced to two terms of 60 years in prison, in exchange for the district attorney’s agreeing to drop its pursuit of the death penalty for the 1995 killings.

Buck’s attorneys argued that his initial sentencing hearing was prejudiced because an expert witness had claimed Buck was more likely to be a future danger because he is black. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed, handing the case back to Harris County for a retrial. “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,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.

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