17 Sep 2011

Double killer granted temporary stay of execution

2:32 pm on 17 September 2011

The US Supreme Court has granted a last-minute stay of execution to a double killer whose lawyers argue the case was tainted by race issues.

Duane Buck, 48, shot and killed his ex-girlfriend Debra Gardner and Kenneth Butler at her home in Texas in 1995.

A third person was also shot, but survived. Ms Gardner's daughter, 14, and son, 11, witnessed the killings.

His legal team said a psychologist who testified that black men were more likely to pose a future public threat could have influenced the sentencing.

Buck was scheduled to face a lethal injection on Thursday evening.

His guilt is not being questioned, but the BBC reports his lawyers appealed on the basis that a new sentencing hearing was necessary because the jury was unfairly influenced.

The Supreme Court received two appeals for the case. One was denied and the other was granted.

The BBC reports the court said it was stopping the execution so it could continue to consider the request.

If the justices decide against the request, Buck would be eligible for a new execution date.