World’s Oldest Death Row Inmate Killed After Awaiting Execution for 30 Years


The world’s oldest death row inmate was executed this week more than 30 years after he was convicted of killing a police officer.

Carl Wayne Buntion, aged 78, received his sentence after he shot and killed 37-year-old Houston police officer James Irby in 1990.

The inmate was convicted of capital murder the following year and has been on death row for the past 30 years, losing many appeals in that time.

On 15 April, a federal judge refused Buntion lawyers’ efforts to stop the execution on the basis the punishment is ‘cruel and unusual’.

In 1990, the inmate fatally shot Irby after the officer pulled over the car he was a passenger in. As the officer spoke to the driver, Buntion exited the vehicle, shot Irby in the head and twice in the back.

As reported by The Mirror, the inmate was in a wheelchair, but also suffered from many health issues including hepatitis C, cirrhosis and chronic liver disease.

In October 2021, his lawyers argued:

“Mr. Buntion is a frail, elderly man who requires specialised care to perform basic functions.”

“He is not a threat to anyone in prison and will not be a threat to anyone in prison if his sentence is reduced to a lesser penalty.”

“During the 31 years he has been incarcerated under a sentence of death, he has been cited for only three disciplinary infractions, and he has not been cited for any infraction whatsoever for the last twenty-three years.”

However, the US Supreme Court declined a request by Buntion’s attorney to stop the execution and on Thursday 21 April 2022, he was executed in Huntsville, Texas.

Buntion was joined in his last moments by his spiritual advisor and was given a lethal dose of the sedative pentobarbital. His last words were the beginning of a prayer:

“The Lord is my Shepherd…”

Buntion’s victim, Irby, had given 18 years of his life to the police department at the unfortunate time of his death.


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