More witnesses take the stand in cop killer Carl Wayne Buntion's sentencing re-trial

February 23, 2012 10:09:44 AM PST
Testimony resumed Thursday in the sentencing re-trial of convicted cop killer Carl Wayne Buntion.

Due to a problem with jury instructions, a judge overturned Buntion's original death sentence, which was handed down in 1991, for killing Houston police officer James Irby during a traffic stop in 1990. Prosecutors want to send him back to death row, but Buntion is hoping for a life sentence.

Prosecutors continued bringing forth witnesses from the day of the murder. There were gasps in the courtroom when one witness -- a now elderly warehouse worker -- took the murder weapon and pointed it at the prosecutor, showing her how Buntion pointed the gun at him before he was finally arrested.

Buntion sat quietly writing notes as testimony continued Thursday.

The re-trial is focusing specifically on Buntion's sentence. The jury can send him back to death row or give him a life sentence with a chance of parole.

"He's been in the penitentiary for 22 years; he's been what now people are saying is a model prisoner. He's not committed one single act of violence in 22 years and we have evidence of that, and even more than that," said Buntion defense attorney Casey Kiernan.

"If he is not given the death sentence again, he is eligible for parole -- which means every couple years, we have to be there to say our piece to make sure he isn't released," said Jerry Mills, Irby's father-in-law. "I have a grandson -- Jim's son -- who is a police officer. He (Buntion) has killed one police officer, maybe he would like to go out and kill another one -- my grandson."

Harris Co. Sheriff's deputy Anthony Lemmons testified he was off-duty at the time of the shooting, but was first on the scene and saw Officer Irby lying dead. Lemmons told us this re-trial has brought out painful feelings that he had buried.

More witnesses are expected to testify.

We are told the case could go to a jury as early as Friday and could possibly be over by next week.