Brother of cop killer Carl Wayne Buntion testifies in resentencing trial

February 27, 2012 3:56:33 PM PST
A convicted cop killer gets a second chance to avoid Texas' death row. But will disturbing tales of his childhood be enough to save his life?

Carl Wayne Buntion was sent to Texas' death row more than 20 years ago for killing Houston Police Officer James Irby. But that sentence was overturned because a judge ruled the jury didn't have all the information they needed at the time.

So, Buntion is being re-sentenced, but this time the jury is hearing about his troubled childhood, and the stories are disturbing.

Buntion's younger brother Bobby dropped several bombshells during his testimony, including how as a teenager he saw his father commit murder and how he stayed at the scene to clean up.

For Maura Irby, the widow of the slain HPD officer, being inside the courtroom for testimony in the re-sentencing trial of the man who killed her husband is like re-living the nightmare of losing him all over again.

"I grit my teeth a lot because sometimes I just want to scream," Maura Irby said.

Buntion, now in his 60s, sat stone-faced as his younger brother Bobby recounted for the jury how as a young kid he witnessed their father do horrible things to animals and how he and Carl were beaten regularly by their father, who was an alcoholic.

"When you take young children like that and you have these things happen to you it explains why they end up the way they end up -- in prison, a life of crime and maybe eventually being tried for their life," said Casey Kiernan, Carl Buntion's attorney.

Carl Buntion was sentenced to death for the 1991 murder of Officer Irby during a routine traffic stop, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned that sentence, saying the jury did not get to consider Buntion's troubled childhood and mental health issues during the punishment phase of his original trial.

His attorney says he's not blaming the father, but maintains it's important for a jury to see where Buntion came from since they're making a life or death decision.

"I don't see that as an excuse for going out and committing cold-blooded murder," said Maura Irby.

The state in this case has to prove that Buntion is going to be a future danger.

His attorney claims he's been a model prisoner.

"This is a unique case because you get to see right now what somebody has done for 22 years since the crime and they can't overcome that. They cannot overcome that," Kiernan said.

He also says there's a chance he may call Buntion to take the stand.

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