HOUSTON -- When the execution of Duane Buck was stayed last night by the U.S. Supreme Court, the families of his two victims were stunned.
While we forgive him, he needed to face the consequences of his behaviors,” said Dorris Gardener, the sister of one Buck’s shooting victims. “And so we were hoping this would be the end of the chapter.”
But it wasn’t. On Thursday night, outside the unit that houses the death chamber in Huntsville, Buck’s family cheered after they heard the news. Even his sister was relieved, even though during that same rampage, Buck had shot her too.
“I'm just thanking God for allowing my brother a fair trial, thank you,” said Phyllis Taylor, Buck’s sister.
But the celebration of Buck’s family was not shared by his victims’ family.
“They were making it like it was a parade outside,” said Shennel Gardener.
What made the situation even more difficult was that before the murders, Buck’s family had been close to Debra Gardener and her family. Things heated up a week after Buck and Gardener broke up.
Gardener’s family said on July 30, 1995, Buck left Gardener’s apartment after an argument and came back with a gun. He then shot his sister Phyllis Taylor who was visiting Gardener. He also gunned down Gardener and another friend, Kenneth Butler. Gardener’s daughter Shennel remembers trying to stop Buck.
“I jumped on his back,” said Shennel. “I'm begging and pleading, don't kill my mom.”
Shennel said her brother and cousin hid in a closet as Buck started firing.
Now, the High court will consider whether a psychologist's testimony during the sentencing phase unfairly prejudiced the jury. The psychologist stated that black people were more likely to commit violence.
“This is not about what that psychologist said,” said Accie Smith, Debra Gardener’s sister.
“If you're going to be fair, look at the big picture, look at what happened on July 30, 1995, when my sister stood in the driveway and begged for her life,” said Smith.