Carl Wayne Buntion had a horrifically cruel life.

His father ruined his childhood, beating his mother and his siblings. Once, his father purposefully shot Carl in the leg and forced him to walk home bleeding, so as not to stain the car upholstery. Carl was homeless by age 12.

And he sexually assaulted a child.

Buntion spent decades on death row in near-total isolation, with only a radio and 60 square feet to move. Buntion was underfed and was not given pain medication to manage his sciatic nerve pain.

And he shot a police officer in the head.

Getty images/ TX Dept of Corrections
Getty Images/ TX Dept of Corrections
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Perhaps the worst thing that ever happened to Carl was the delays in his execution. At 78 years old, Carl is the oldest man ever executed in Texas. The oldest man ever executed in the U.S. was 83 years old. Walter Moody Jr. of Alabama was executed for the murder of a federal judge.

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Shortly before his execution, Carl suffered injuries when a prison vehicle stopped short. Carl, restrained by the arms and legs and not buckled in, was thrown around the interior of the vehicle. He sustained a head wound and other injuries.

Carl also developed pneumonia, making the execution by phenobarbitol more akin to torture. It had to have been painful, and it had to feel like he was drowning. As he died, motorcycle cops revved their engines loudly enough for him to hear one final insult before he died.

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Carl apologized for the death of Officer James Irby, whom he shot at a traffic stop while he was on parole for the sexual assault of a child. Previously, his brother had been gunned down by police, and Carl swore vengeance. Carl paid a hefty price for it.

Do we sympathize with Carl? Or do we shrug and say, "he got what he deserved." For me, it's both. His life was terrible, he made it worse for himself and he hurt other innocent people. It's all just so awful and ugly.

"I hope to see you in heaven someday," were Carl's last words. Perhaps he got out of hell for "time served."

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