A multi-year team of researchers from Columbia Law School have just released a book-length monograph that thoroughly addresses the probable innocence of the 1989 Texas executee, Carlos DeLuna. The article shows how this case represented a poor judicial process in every facet imaginable.
All of the obvious details are captured in the work, called Los Tocayos Carlos (The Carlos Namesake) and can be found at: http://thewrongcarlos.net. The name reflects how all crime evidence and current personal testimonies that professor James Liebman and a team of students observe point to another man named Carlos—Carlos Hernandez. DeLuna was charged for stabbing and killing of gas station cashier Wanda Lopez. Even though he and Hernandez had histories of crime and together the night of this crime, Hernandez’s history was of the violent type. The knife used in this murder, one later described by his then girlfriend as his prized possession, was seemingly the same one he was later sent to jail for using in a 1989 assault.
By inclusion of more recent video interviews, the site reveals how everyone who lived in the neighborhood of Hernandez, now deceased, knew him as violent. Neighbor Janie Adrian recounts him bragging about killing Lopez. But it seems that back then, neighbors either feared him too much to approach court or did not realize how they were able to help.
Hernandez even called DeLuna his tocayo (twin or namesake); Hernandez knew DeLuna was shouldering the blame. Both looked very much alike; so much so that family and friends found their photos indistinguishable. Absolutely no serious forensic evidence went into the conviction. Two nighttime, cross-ethnic eyewitness reporters later identified him by photo. One merely claimed DeLuna was playing with a knife outside the station. The other man saw a Hispanic man run out of the gas station after stabbing Lopez and described him as having threatened him and wearing a flannel shirt and a gray sweatshirt, something Hernandez was known for wearing. DeLuna was later found shirtless but had apparently been wearing a white-long sleeved shirt. Even a then local police detective, Eddie Garza, points out that the prosecutor did not believe Hernandez was a real person, though obviously he was known by police in the area.
Perhaps the most striking video on the site provides a Texas death house chaplain’s account of how DeLuna even maintained his innocence before laying to lethal injection. He also told journalist Karen Boudrie-Evers, who continuously interviewed him while on death row, in his last phone call immediately before injection that he did not do it.
This monograph is equally relevant to cases today, as evidence viewed superficially can lead to assumption and a resistance to critical thinking. Such human self-righteousness in the affecters of discipline paired with a suspect’s bad history close all minds to the opportunity of true justice. Look into the fascinating facts the website listed above presents and decide for yourself whether or not an innocent man was executed in Texas.