Buffalo Chambers Spared, This Time by the U.S. Supreme Court

Categories: Crime
More than three decades ago, a then-21-year-old Ronald "Buffalo" Chambers was sentenced to die. Today, he got yet another reprieve -- this time, from the Supreme Court.

On April 10, 1975, Ronald "Buffalo" Chambers and another man kidnapped 22-year-old Texas Tech student Mike McMahan and 20-year-old Deia Sutton, drove them to the Trinity River bottoms and shot both in the head. McMahan died from his injuries; Sutton, amazingly, survived and testified against Chambers, who wound up receiving a death sentence. Chambers, nicknamed "the Dean of Death Row" because he's the longest-serving inmate awaiting execution, was supposed to die January 25, before Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stepped in to postpone the execution on January 22, as the high court was about to rule on three other Texas death penalty cases. The Supreme Court was looking into whether juries had been properly instructed to consider mitigating circumstances during those three trials.

Turns out, the Buffalo will extend his winning streak: A week after voiding those three sentences, the Supreme Court today remanded the case of the 52-year-old to a lower federal appeals court. Reports the Associated Press, "the Supreme Court found jurors weren't allowed to give sufficient weight to factors that might cause them to impose a life sentence rather than death." This marks the third time Chambers has escaped the death for which he's been waiting for more than 30 years: "I knew it was coming," he said in December, when his January date was originally set. --Robert Wilonsky

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