‘We’ve been waiting for this’: Widow of HPD cop killed during traffic stop 30 years ago speaks out after execution date set for husband’s killer

He's the man accused of killing officer James Irby

HOUSTON – Carl Wayne Buntion, who was convicted of killing Houston police officer James Irby during a 1990 traffic stop, is scheduled to be executed April 21, the Harris County district attorney announced Tuesday.

Ogg said a judge set the date at the request of prosecutors during a hearing at the Criminal Justice Center.

“He shot a policeman in the head more than 30 years ago, and it is time that he be held accountable for his horrific crime,” Ogg said. “He robbed Officer Irby of his life and deprived the Irby family of a lifetime of memories with him; it is time for them to have justice.”

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office recalled that Buntion was a passenger in a car pulled over by Irby at Airline Drive and Lyerly Street on June 27, 1990. While Irby and the driver were talking, Buntion slipped out of the vehicle and shot Irby once in the head. While Irby was lying on the ground, Buntion shot him twice in the back. He ran away and fired at others before being caught in a nearby building, according to the office.

Maura Irby, James Irby’s widow, now lives in Austin with her children that she shared with James Irby.

Her daughter, Cally, is now 31. She had just turned 1 when her father was killed. Irby’s son Cody is 33 and was just 3 years old when Irby died.

WATCH: Cally speaks out after judge sets execution date for Carl Wayne Buntion

Here's what the officer's daughter had to say:

Maura Irby shared this statement with KPRC 2: “I just found out this morning that Carl Buntion is being executed. It’s been 30 years. We’ve been waiting for this. I wish James was here to see this. It is good to close the chapter on my husband’s murder. We can now put this away.”

In 1991, a jury found Buntion guilty of capital murder and sentenced him to death. He was later granted a new sentencing phase and re-sentenced to death.

Buntion, was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas prison gang, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office noted, adding that prior to the capital murder, he had an extensive criminal record, including 13 prior felony convictions.

Editor’s Note: In a previous version of this report, KPRC 2 reported incorrect information provided by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office that said Buntion had a second trial and was again convicted in 2012.


About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.