Jury deliberating in re-sentencing trial of cop killer

March 5, 2012 12:20:33 PM PST
A Harris County jury is now deliberating in a trial that's being closely watched by Houston police officers. Convicted cop killer Carl Wayne Buntion is being re-sentenced, and if he gets life, he could get out of prison some day.

On Monday morning, the defense gave their closing arguments after prosecutors explained to the jury that Buntion deserves the death penalty. This trial was not to determine guilt or innocence -- Buntion was already convicted of capital murder for fatally shooting HPD Officer James Irby 22 years ago.

The jury at that time sent Buntion to death row and the case has been a roller coaster of rulings ever since. The Supreme Court ordered the new punishment trial because the jury was not instructed to consider special circumstances -- including the defendant's difficult childhood consisting of abuse -- that may have influenced their choice of the death penalty.

If this jury gives him life in prison, they cannot choose life without parole because at the time that Buntion was convicted, life without parole was not on the Texas law books.

The Irby family says only the death penalty will bring them closure.

"It's all up to choice. Twenty-two years ago, Carl Wayne Buntion made a choice and that choice has rippled through time until today to affect hundreds of thousands of people's lives and we need to hold him to that choice," said the victim's son, Officer Cody Irby.

"There were just many things that I missed and that I didn't get to do growing up because I didn't have a father. So I hope that they (the jury) understood that and how that hurt and affected our family," said Cally Irby, the victim's daughter.

During closing arguments Monday, prosecutor Caroline Dozier said, "The defendant has not changed, just his opportunities have been taken away. He is a 13-time convicted felon; if you count this crime -- 14. When he was 43 years old, he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl."

Buntion was out of prison for that crime when he fatally shot Officer Irby.

We're told Buntion did not testify during this re-sentencing trial because his attorneys advised him not to do so.

Stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for the latest on this story.

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