Texas and Tennessee: Execution of Carl Buntion and stay for Oscar Smith

The U.S. state of Texas executed its oldest death row inmate, 78-year-old Carl Wayne Buntion, with a lethal injection Thursday night.

He was sentenced to death for shooting a police officer during a traffic stop in 1990. While media reports at the time speculated that he was seeking revenge for the death of his twin brother, who was killed by police in 1971, Buntion stated in a recent interview that it was an unplanned shooting and that he acted in self-defense.

In his final words, the old man, addressing his victim’s family, expressed remorse and regret. Buntion had a long criminal history at the time of the crime and had been convicted of theft, robbery and drug possession, among other crimes.

When Buntion was a child, his father killed a man in front of Buntion’s brother, knocking out his mother’s teeth and breaking his and his brother’s bones, according to the brother’s testimony.

Buntion’s attorneys currently argued that their client was no longer capable of harming anyone due to his advanced age and several illnesses, including walking disability and liver disease – but to no avail, neither the courts nor the clemency board halted the execution.

Bill Lee, governor of the U.S. state of Tennessee on Thursday ordered the Execution of Oscar Franklin Smith, 72, temporarily stayed about an hour before it was scheduled to take place.

Lee cited an “oversight in the preparation of the lethal injection” in a statement. His announcement did not provide further details about the problem. The postponement is to last until June 1, after which the Tennessee Supreme Court can set a new date.

The Tennessee Department of Corrections confirmed Thursday night that Smith would be released from death supervision and returned to his cell.

Smith, an Episcopalian, was taking communion with his spiritual adviser when he learned of the pardon, his attorney said. “It was obvious, a physical relief washed over him,” she said. “He thanked God that the matter was over for the time being.”