Los Tocayos Carlos

Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Did it leave the real killer on the streets to terrorize his
neighbors for years to come?

An Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution

Los Tocayos Carlos, a book-length monograph and comprehensive website published by the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, helps answer these haunting questions. Based on one of the most thorough investigations of a criminal case in U.S. history, the groundbreaking article by Columbia Law School Professor James Liebman and a team of students uncovers evidence that Carlos DeLuna, a poor Hispanic man with childlike intelligence who was executed in Texas in 1989, was innocent.

All the evidence is here for readers to explore, and decide for themselves: crime-scene photos, law enforcement and court records, newspaper and TV coverage, police audiotape of the manhunt ending in DeLuna’s arrest, videotaped interviews, interactive map and much more.

“I didn’t do it, but I know who did.”

Rose Rhoton Short Video
Rose Rhoton
Sister of Carlos DeLuna

From the moment of DeLuna’s arrest to the moment of his execution six years later, his claim of innocence remained the same.

Eddie Garza Short Video
Eddie Garza
Corpus Christi Police Detective

While the prosecutor in DeLuna’s case said that Carlos Hernandez—the man DeLuna said was the actual killer—was a “phantom,” evidence uncovered years later shows not only that he existed, but that he was well-known to police and prosecutors at the time and had a long history of violent crimes.

Dina Ybañez Short Video
Dina Ybañez
Neighbor of Carlos Hernandez

Hernandez’s violence against young Hispanic women in Corpus Christi continued after his “tocayo” (namesake or twin), Carlos DeLuna, went to death row and was executed.

Carroll Pickett Short Video 1
Carroll Pickett
Texas Death House Chaplain

Even at the midnight hour, when there was nothing left to lose and the Death House Chaplain heard confessions from most of the other 95 inmates he ushered to their deaths, DeLuna said, “I didn’t do it.”

The victim, Wanda Lopez.
The Sigmor Shamrock gas station where Wanda Lopez was knifed to death.
The manhunt: DeLuna took the blue route. Police spent 30 minutes following someone else along the red route.
DeLuna as he normally looked; and with a swollen nose and lip shortly after his arrest. DeLuna said arresting officers beat him up just before showing him to eyewitness Kevan Baker.
Los tocayos Carlos: Can you tell them apart? See last slides for answer key.
The eyewitness who identified DeLuna only saw the killer’s face in profile for a few seconds after the killer threatened him. Could you tell these men apart? See last slides for answer key.
Carlos Hernandez in his “winter uniform”: blue jeans, flannel shirt and grey undershirt—the description the eyewitness gave of the killer’s clothing.
The murder weapon on the floor underneath the blood-stained cash drawer. Money left at the scene. The phone Wanda Lopez used to call 911, which the assailant hung up while attacking her.
The murder weapon.
Comparison of the murder weapon (left) and the one Carlos Hernandez used to cut a four-inch incision in Dina Ybañez’s stomach a few years later.
Blood spatter nearly two feet high. The killer’s bloody shoe print (upper right).

Police never told the jury or defense lawyers about the shoe print. DeLuna had no blood on his shoes, clothes or body when he was arrested nearby soon after the knifing.
Olivia Escobedo, lead detective in the Wanda Lopez and Dahlia Sauceda murder cases, standing on evidence at the Lopez crime scene.
Left: Prosecutors Steve Schiwetz (left) and Ken Botary (right). Right: Carlos DeLuna with defense lawyers James Lawrence (center) and Hector De Peña (right).
Courtroom sketches of the judge, Wallace Moore, and jury at Carlos DeLuna’s trial.
The Hernandez house on Carrizo Street. Pricilla Hernandez and Bea Tapia were sitting atop the steps when they overheard Carlos Hernandez and his brother talking on the porch. Carlos told his brother that he stabbed “Wanda” with his buck knife at the Shamrock station.
Karen Boudrie interviewing Carlos DeLuna on death row.
Newspaper photo of Carlos being arrested by Detectives Paul Rivera and Eddie Garza for murdering Dahlia Sauceda and carving an ‘X’ on her back. The clipping is from a scrap book at the Hernandez home, where someone had drawn an ‘X’ on Detective Rivera’s face.
Reverend Carroll Pickett, Death House Chaplain.
The execution “table.”
Carlos DeLuna’s gravesite in Corpus Christi: “I’m with God.”
Carlos DeLuna and his sister Rose.
Answer Key:
Top row (left to right): Hernandez; DeLuna
Bottom row (left to right): DeLuna; Hernandez
Answer Key:
Top row (left to right): Hernandez; Hernandez; Hernandez; DeLuna
Bottom row (left to right): DeLuna; Hernandez; DeLuna; DeLuna

This tragic story begins on February 4, 1983, when Wanda Lopez, a poor Hispanic single mother, was stabbed to death with a lock-blade buck knife while working at a convenience store in Corpus Christi.

Read the book, and decide for yourself what happened. »