The U.S. Supreme Court will hear two Texas death penalty cases next term, both related to crimes that occurred in Houston, the high court revealed Monday.
Death row inmate Duane Buck was condemned for the 1997 shooting death of ex-girlfriend Debra Gardner and her friend Kenneth Butler. His guilt isn't in contention, but the decision to sentence him to death is.
At trial, a psychologist testified that Buck was more likely to be a threat to society because he is black. Buck's advocates argue that racism played a role in his death sentence. Now the Supreme Court will tackle the case, considering whether Buck had effective assistance of counsel and the role race played in his sentencing.
Death row inmate Bobby James Moore was sentenced for the 1980 killing of a 72-year-old grocery clerk in Houston during a botched robbery. His legal team's contention stems from whether Moore is intellectually disabled and whether he should be deemed exempt from lethal injection. The case touches on disagreements over what amounts to intellectual disability and whether it should be applied in the 36-year-old case. Both sides hope the justices will settle the matter.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2016/06/06/scotus-takes-2-texas-death-penalty-cases/.