Texas’s oldest convict on death row executed as an officer’s death row prisoner

Huntsville, Texas (AP) — The oldest convict on death row in Texas was executed Thursday for killing a Houston police officer during a traffic outage nearly 32 years ago.

Karl Wayne Vantion, 78, executed in a state prison in Huntsville. He was accused of deadly shootings by Houston police officer James Arby, a member of the unit for about 20 years, in June 1990.

The US Supreme Court has rejected Bantion’s lawyer’s request to suspend the execution.

“I wanted the Arbys to know one thing. I regret what I did,” Bantion said, tied to Gurney in Texas’s Death Room. “I pray to God that they will be closed for me to kill their father and Mr. Arby’s husband.

“I hope to see you in heaven someday. When you show up, I will give you a big hug.”

Bantion, with his spiritual counsel, began praying for Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd …”. A lethal dose of powerful sedative pentobarbital has begun. He took a deep breath, coughed once, and then took three less noticeable breaths before all movements stopped.

He was sentenced to die 13 minutes later at 6:39 pm.

Dozens of motorcyclists supporting the murdered motorcycle police officers slammed the engine when the execution took place, and a roar was clearly heard in the death room.

Bantion was released on parole for only six weeks when he shot the 37-year-old Arby. Bantion, who had a wealth of criminal records, was a passenger in a car pulled by Arby. In 2009, the Court of Appeals abandoned Bantion’s decision, but another jury resented him and died three years later.

After seeing Bantion’s execution, police widow Maura Arby said, “I’m delighted. I’m sorry someone died. But I didn’t think of him as a person. I just took him as a thing. I thought of it as a thing. I have cancer on my family’s face. “

Prior to the murder, James Arby talked about his retirement and spent more time with his two children, then 1 and 3 years old, Maura Arby, 60, said earlier.

“He filled out the paperwork and was ready to stay home and open a feed store,” she said. “He wanted to be the dad who was there to go to all the ball games, and his dad and daughter dance. He was a super guy and loved my life.”

Prior to his execution, various state and federal courts also dismissed appeals seeking suspension of the death sentence by Bantion’s lawyers. The Texas Board of Pardons on Tuesday rejected his request for amnesty.

Bantion’s lawyer said he was responsible for Irby’s death and “deserves severe punishment for the crime.”

However, they claim that his execution is unconstitutional because the jury has proved incorrect in his judgment that he is in danger to society (one of the reasons the death sentence was given). Did. Since his conviction. His lawyer described Bantion as an old prisoner who did not pose a threat because he suffered from arthritis, dizziness and needed a wheelchair.

“The 30-year delay undermines the rationale for the death penalty … any deterrent effect is diminished by the delay,” his lawyers David Dow and Jeffrey Newbury wrote in court documents.

His execution has made Bantion the oldest person to be sentenced to death in Texas since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on the death penalty in 1976.The oldest prisoner executed in the modern United States Walter Moody Jr... He was 83 years old when he was sentenced to death in Alabama in 2018.

Bantion was also the first prisoner to be executed in Texas in 2022. Texas was the busiest death penalty nation in the United States, Almost 7 months Because I was executed. Due to the influence of the coronavirus, there have been only three executions in the last two years. Pandemic Delayed legal question regarding Texas permit denial Spiritual Advisor Touch the prisoner and pray aloud in the room of death.

March, US Supreme Court The state said it had to respond to the request to pray to the leaders of the faith and touch the prisoners during the execution.

As Texas was preparing for Bantion’s execution, Tennessee officials canceled the execution of prisoners, who would be the state’s first execution since the pandemic began, on Thursday. Oscar SmithThe 72-year-old was due to die in 1989 after murdering his estranged wife and teenage son. Republican Governor Bill Lee did not elaborate on which issue was forced to abruptly suspend the planned 11-hour execution.

Texas prison officials agreed with Bantion’s request to allow his spiritual adviser to pray and touch him aloud while he was sentenced to death.

Adviser Barry Brown placed his right hand on Bansion’s right ankle just before the drug began to flow and prayed for about five minutes. He said Bantion was no longer a “hard-headed young man” but “being humbled by prison walls and cold steel.”

Executioners evoked painful memories for her, but Arby also said she reminded her of her advocacy in posthumous public security.

“I still miss him 32 years later,” she said Thursday night.


Lozano reported from Houston.


Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https: //twitter.com/juanlozano70


This story has been modified to show that Bantion, with the addition of his spiritual adviser, has begun praying for Psalm 23.