An execution in Texas, a reprieve in Tennessee, and a stay in South Carolina

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Two of three planned executions for this month were stayed, while Texas held its first of five planned for this year.

Texas executed Carl Buntion last Thursday. He was 78, the oldest person on the state’s death row, and the oldest person ever executed by the state.

Buntion was sentenced to death in 1991 for the killing of Houston police officer James Irby during a traffic stop, KPRC2 reports. He was on parole after serving 13 months of a 15-year prison sentence for the sexual assault of a teenage girl. According to KPRC, the case was the catalyst for a change in sentencing laws for violent offenders.

Buntion’s was the first of five executions Texas plans for this year. There are 199 men and women on death row.

In Tennessee, Oscar Smith was also scheduled to be executed last Thursday, but Gov. Bill Lee issued a temporary reprieve just hours before Smith was to be killed and after he ate his last meal.

WKRN.com reports that Lee released a statement explaining that, Due to an oversight in preparation for lethal injection, the scheduled execution of Oscar Smith will not move forward tonight. I am granting a temporary reprieve while we address Tennessee Department of Correction protocol.”

Smith was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1990 killing of his estranged wife and her two sons. The 72-year-old Smith is the oldest person on death row.

In an interview with CNN, Smith’s attorney, Amy Harwell, said that Smith had maintained his innocence since his arrest, and “New cutting-edge DNA evidence excluding Mr. Smith as the contributor of DNA evidence on the murder weapon in this case proves his claim.”

It was to be the state’s first killing since February 2020 and the first of five planned for 2022.

And in South Carolina, last week, the state Supreme Court issued a temporary stay of execution for Richard Bernard Moore, who was scheduled to be killed tomorrow. Moore told the court earlier this month that he opted to be executed by firing squad rather than the electric chair because, “I believe this election is forcing me to choose between two unconstitutional methods of execution,” according to Aol.com. Moore’s lawyer told CNN they requested a stay to give them time to appeal his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, in a separate proceeding in South Carolina, a judge ruled that a lawsuit filed by four men on death row challenging the state’s proposed new execution protocol could go forward, AP reports. The men argue that execution by firing squad or electric chair violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The state made electrocution the default and firing squad an option last year when lethal injection drugs became difficult to obtain.

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