ATLANTIC, Iowa -- Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, who has overseen more executions than any other governor in history , said Friday he will "respect" the Supreme Court decision to stay one of them.
Speaking to reporters at a campaign event here, the Texas governor said lawyers for the state will examine the case of Duane Buck, a convicted double murderer whose execution was halted by the Supreme Court Thursday hours before he was to receive a lethal injection. Buck's lawyers argued that the 48-year-old African American was the victim of racial prejudice because a psychologist told the jury deciding his sentence that black criminals are more likely to commit violence in the future.
"Justice will be served," Perry said, whether or not Buck ultimately is executed. "Whether or not he is guilty is not the question," said Perry. "Whether or not the jury process was tainted will be decided by the Supreme Court and we will respect that." The court said it will consider whether to hear an appeal in Buck's case.
In issuing the stay -- unusual in death penalty cases where the guilt of the convict is not in question -- the Supreme Court took a decision about Buck's fate out of Perry's hands. Buck's lawyers had also asked the governor to issue a reprieve.
Since Perry took over the governor's office 11 years ago, 234 convicts have been executed by the state of Texas. When Brian Williams, moderator of Monday's Republican presidential debate, cited that record, it drew applause from tea party supporters in the audience.
In his appearance here, as in the debate, he defended his state's use of the death penalty.
"In the state of Texas, we believe in our form of justice," he said.