HOUSTON – Convicted cop-killer Carl Wayne Buntion will return to death row, a Harris County jury decided Tuesday in his resentencing trial.
Buntion fatally shot HPD Officer James Irby more than 20 years ago and was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1991.
But an appeals court later ruled that the jury instructions in that case were flawed, and Buntion won a new sentencing trial.
His lawyers wanted a life sentence, arguing that jurors in the first trial were not allowed to consider Buntion’s troubled childhood.
But once Buntion won the right to a new sentencing trial, prosecutors promised Irby’s family that they would fight hard for the death penalty – again.
Irby was working as a motorcycle patrol officer when he pulled over a car that Buntion was riding in for a minor traffic violation in June of 1990.
Prosecutors said Buntion got out of the car during the traffic stop and shot Irby – a husband and father – in the head.
Irby’s family was present for most of the court proceedings this month, reliving painful details and – in some cases – learning things they never knew before.
"This whole process, everyone has been having nightmares – a lot of details that kids didn’t know," Irby’s wife, Maura Irby said.
The Irby family said they felt Buntion belonged on death row.
"I hope he gets the death penalty," the officer’s son, Cody Irby, said. "He made a choice to murder my father."