HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 1
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All Chapter 1 Footnotes

Wanda was excited about a new boyfriend.32 After her husband left, she sometimes went out to clubs and parties on the weekend,33 but she never dated anyone for long, and never anyone she wanted the family to meet.34 Now, though, Wanda had found someone she was proud of and wanted to bring home.35 She called him Green Eyes. They say the man came to Wanda’s funeral to pay his respects, but Richard never met him.36

Sometime after 8:00 p.m., a kid from across the street crashed his bicycle onto the Vargas’ driveway and ran to the door.37 He was breathless, yelling. He said something had happened over at the gas station.38 Wanda was hurt. They’d better get there fast. Richard recalls the boy saying it didn’t look good.39

Richard left alone, telling his father he’d report back as soon as he could.40 His father drove over to the bingo game to get his wife.41

When Richard arrived at the Sigmor, he found chaos. There were cop cars and officers everywhere, emergency lights flashing, police radios blaring. An ambulance, fire truck, and TV trucks were parked in the gas station lot. Fifty or sixty people from the neighborhood were milling around.42

Richard rushed towards the store.43 His little sister was lying on the sidewalk just outside the door.44 She was soaked in blood, and so was the sidewalk. A firefighter stood over her with an IV bag.45 She had a tube in her mouth and was hooked to a large plastic machine with more tubes that went into her chest.46 Paramedics had her on a backboard. They were lifting her onto a stretcher on wheels.47

“That’s my sister,” Richard yelled. “Let me through.” The cops held him back,48 telling him to go meet the ambulance at the hospital.49 He asked what had happened, but all they would say was there’d been a tragedy.50

Richard looked inside the store for clues. It was lit up and people in plain clothes were rushing around, looking worried. There was blood everywhere. Something caught his eye and made him stop. He thought he was imagining things, but he looked closer, and it was real: two people were scrubbing the floors as fast as they could.51 He couldn’t understand why they were cleaning up the crime scene already.52

The ambulance left, headed east on SPID towards Mercy Hospital. Richard followed in his car.53 Once inside the emergency room, he heard the words he had dreaded since he saw his sister on the sidewalk: “Your sister is dead.”54

Richard called his parents and they met him at the hospital,55 bringing Wanda’s five-year-old daughter with them.56 They learned that Wanda had been stabbed once through the left breast with a knife. The blade went most of the way through her lung.57 She bled to death within minutes.58 No one told the family how it had happened, only that someone had stabbed her.

Later on they heard more, in Wanda’s own words and screams.

They were at home with the TV going when the news came on. There was a report about the robbery-murder at the Sigmor Shamrock station on SPID. Reminding viewers that Wanda Vargas Lopez, a store clerk, had been stabbed to death, the reporter turned excitedly to a new development. It turned out that the store clerk was on the phone with the police when she was killed. Police had the crime on a 911 tape.

Then, the TV station played the tape.59 Wanda’s words were typed out at the bottom of the screen.60 At the first sound of Wanda’s frightened voice, Richard’s mother rushed his niece out of the room. Both were crying.They didn’t need to hear this. Both started counseling soon after Wanda died and continued receiving it for years.61

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:46:43–06:47:13 (“She was so excited for us, I guess, to meet some new friend she met. Being that her life was always trying to be the best you can and take care of yourself, probably she had, I’m thinking, found somebody that she was proud of and wanted us to meet him . . . .”);

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 15:23:14–15:23:57 (stating that, around the time of the killing, “I can remember [Wanda] seeing somebody . . . I don’t believe it was a very long-term relationship, somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 months, probably quite a bit under.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 8, 2004) at 05:05:05–05:05:47 (“I know she went out to nightclubs, because several times I was with her . . . .”);

Transcribed Videotape Interview #208 with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 15:22:45–15:22:07 (“Wanda would go out on Friday nights or Saturday nights after she got off work . . . .”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 8, 2004) at 05:02:51–05:03:14 (recalling that when Nesmith was spending time with Wanda, “she never really had a boyfriend, to say, she was committed to someone. She was pretty much single. She had a lot of friends.”);

see infra Chapter 13, notes 19–22 and accompanying text (discussing Nesmith’s observations of Wanda).

See Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:46:43–06:47:13 (“She was so excited for us, I guess, to meet some new friend she met. Being that her life was always trying to be the best you can and take care of yourself, probably she had, I’m thinking, found somebody that she was proud of and wanted us to meet him . . . .”);

see also Dep. of Mary Vargas at 17, Vargas v. Diamond Shamrock, No. 84–4951-D, 86–5900-D (filed April 20, 1988) (noting that her daughter Wanda was dating someone at the time she was killed whom Wanda called “Green Eyes,” but not recalling the man’s name).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Sigmor Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005), at 17:26:24–17:27:44 (“You know, I believe I met [the man Wanda was dating]. I remember the funeral . . . Somebody was standing, a male figure, and that might have been her boyfriend . . . .”).

Dep. of Mary Vargas at 18–19, Vargas v. Diamond Shamrock, No. 84–4951-D, 86–5900-D (filed April 20, 1988) (stating that she “was at the bingo” when the boy came by the house on his bicycle, and she heard the news when her husband came over to get her “a little after eight”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:47:57–06:48:29 (“[The boy who came to the door] was a neighbor across the street’s son who happened to go by the store and saw what happened. And he wanted to be the first one to come and tell us. And he was the first one that came and told us before we even heard it on the news or anything . . . I believe he was on a bike.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:45:13–06:46:35 (“Well, I got home to Mom’s and Dad’s home and ready to go and we get this disturbing knock on the door. A man screaming saying that something just happened at Shamrock, where my sister works and to be careful on the way over there but it doesn’t look good.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:45:13–06:46:35 (“Well, I got home to Mom’s and Dad’s home and ready to go and we get this disturbing knock on the door. A man screaming saying that something just happened at Shamrock, where my sister works and to be careful on the way over there but it doesn’t look good.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview #004 with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:45:13–06:46:35, 06:48:59–06:49:38 (“I took off on my own.”; assenting to question, “So when you heard that, you told your [family] to stay where they were. You got in your car and you went over to the gas station?”).

Dep. of Mary Vargas at 19, Vargas v. Diamond Shamrock, No. 84–4951-D, 86–5900-D (filed April 20, 1988) (stating that her husband came to get her at the bingo game after he heard that Wanda had been hurt at the Sigmor-Shamrock station).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:49:49–06:50:19 (recalling that when he arrived at the scene, “[i]t was chaos; there cops [sic], officers, lights, ambulance, people moving all about”);

see infra Chapter 2, Figure 2 (reproducing images from a TV station videotape of the crime scene); infra Chapter 3, notes 31–47, 68 (describing the scene and the crowd outside the Sigmor Shamrock store); infra Chapter 4, notes 6–8 and accompanying text (additional descriptions of the scene in the gas station parking lot).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:49:27–06:49:38 (explaining that, when he arrived at the scene, he saw Wanda being loaded on the gurney and rushed to be with her, but “they restrained me and said this wasn’t a good time to get into that area”).

Crime Scene Photograph 25500034, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) (showing Lopez being loaded on the gurney directly in front of the doorway into the Sigmor Shamrock store).

Crime Scene Photograph 25500029, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) (showing a fireman standing over Lopez, holding an IV bag).

Crime Scene Photograph 25500035, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) (showing Lopez being loaded onto a gurney with a tube in her throat and a metal stabilizing device on her chest).

Crime Scene Photograph 25500035, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:50:24–06:50:41 (“All I remember is, I got, I got restrained. I looked at the ambulance, and they are loading her up. I look back at the door and it’s pretty gruesome.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:53:20–06:53:29 (“[The police] said the only way you can see your sister is if you head to the hospital now.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:53:29–06:53:46 (“[The police] just said something tragic has happened.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:50:24–06:50:54 (“[When I got to the scene] I look[ed] back at the door and it’s pretty gruesome. And I see 2 individuals with gloves just wiping the floor as fast as they can, the entry and exit, same door . . . They were picking . . . up [the blood] real quick with some large cloth or something.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:49:49–06:50:19 (“What struck me, even to today: Why were they cleaning up right away when this was too fresh? I mean, why disturb anything?”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:54:01–06:54:08 (responding to the question, “As quickly as you can, you got out of there and went to the hospital?,” by saying, “Right.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:54:08–06:54:32 (recalling that, when he arrived at the hospital, he talked to the “doctor in charge of the emergency [room]” who told him his sister had died).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) (“I believe the doctor was there in charge of the emergency [room]. And then my parents were arriving also.”).

Dep. of Mary Vargas at 20, Vargas v. Diamond Shamrock, No. 84–4951-D, 86–5900-D (filed April 20, 1988) (“[Her granddaughter] was with me [in the hospital]”).

Autopsy Findings of Wanda Lopez, Joseph C. Rupp, Nueces County Medical Examiner (Feb. 5, 1983) at 2 (“The wound penetrates the 5th intercostal space into the left chest cavity and goes almost completely through the lower lobe of the left lung.”).

Emergency Services Record for Wanda Lopez, Memorial Medical Center, Corpus Christi, Texas (Feb. 4, 1983) at 1, 2 (“8:45 Pt brought to ER by . . . ambulance CPR in progress—stab wound to (l) lat chest by breast . . . 8:55 Pupils dialated + fixed . . . 9:55 Pronounced dead . . . .”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:55:54–06:56:15 (“Something I never heard [before] that made me very furious was the 911 calls [the T.V. stations were playing].”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 06:56:47–06:57:11 (“They showed words on the bottom and they show[ed] some kind of figuration on top. But not only did they show those two things they put her voice in there. So you had three ways of hearing what was happening at the time.”).

Dep. of Mary Vargas at 21, 22, Vargas v. Diamond Shamrock, No. 84–4951-D, 86–5900-D (filed April 20, 1988) (“At first [her granddaughter] would go [to the therapist] several times, about two times a week . . . Now, she’s going about three, every two, three weeks.”; “[I went to the therapist] I think about every, two times a week, I don’t know for sure.”).

Chapter 1
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