HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 13
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All Chapter 13 Footnotes

Twenty years later, discussing the case with the investigators at a hotel near the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport,12 Boudrie recalled one of the biggest "things the prosecution had going for it" at DeLuna's trial: a sensational tape recording of "Wanda Lopez calling the 911 dispatcher. And you can hear her on the tape begging for her life, and screaming."13

When prosecutors played the tape, the apprentice reporter realized they weren't messing around. They were "out for blood."14 "It was going to be a feather in someone's cap to be able to get the death penalty in this case."15

* * * * *

DeLuna's sister Rose spent those days shuttling back and forth between the courthouse and the hospital where her mother lay dying,16 hoping the defense attorneys would prove what Carlos had told her and she believed—that he didn't kill Wanda Lopez.17

Wanda's parents and her brother Richard sought something different—an end to their ordeal, some sign that Wanda's attacker realized that he shouldn't have done this to her, that she didn't deserve it.18

* * * * *

Wanda's cousin, Becky Nesmith, had been working at a different Diamond Shamrock convenience store on the night of Wanda's murder.19 Although several years younger than her cousin, Becky later described Wanda to the private investigators as "like a sister" and sometimes a "savior," as the two struggled to adjust to lives as single mothers deserted by the father of their children.20 Like others, Becky described Wanda as a "happy spirit. . . . very loving, very friendly, very outgoing."21 Becky had worried about her cousin working alone in a dangerous area across the street from a topless bar.22

Becky recalled getting "a phone call from my mother at work letting me know that Wanda had died."23 She rushed to the hospital and then to Wanda's mother's house, down the street from the hospital.24 Becky was wearing her blue Shamrock smock, and she recalled her aunt clutching Wanda's smock. "She was just curled in the blue smock, crying and crying," Becky remembered sadly. "And she had this picture [of Wanda] next to her, in color. It was just an awful ordeal."25

In summer school later that year, Becky's history teacher announced that students would be required to watch a murder trial at the courthouse downtown and write reflections.26 "When he said what trial it was," Becky realized "it was my cousin Wanda's."27 Becky wondered how she'd react to the monster she expected this DeLuna to be and to evidence of how he brutalized her cousin.28

Becky's reaction to at least one piece of evidence was the same as Karen Boudrie's.

"[T]he worst part of the trial," Becky said, "was when they aired the 911 call, where we heard her speaking and the operator speaking, and the questions that they had asked her. And at the end of the phone call, she's screaming, and then the phone hangs up."29

"It was terrifying hearing her voice," she recalled tearfully—"the last time we were ever going to hear [it]."30

* * * * *

In his opening summary for the jury, prosecutor Schiwetz laid out what seemed like an open-and-shut case. Just after Wanda screamed on the call,31 the police dispatched all available officers to a manhunt near the Shamrock. Forty minutes later and three blocks away, they found Carlos DeLuna cowering under a truck.32 Shortly after that, four witnesses identified him as the man they'd seen at or near the gas station.33

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 1:21:55–1:22:20 ("Today is Monday, February 28th, 2005, we're near the Dallas Fort Worth airport, and we're here with Karen Boudrie-Evers. Karen, if you'd just tell us your name, and give us a bit of a biography, including your work history.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 02:07:20–02:08:35:

But I think one of the things the prosecution had going for it as well was the fact that this tape was so sensational as well, with Wanda Lopez calling the 911 dispatcher. And you can hear her on tape begging for her life, and screaming. The courtroom is in absolute silence, and we're all in shock, in a state of unbelievability that—Why did someone have to kill this woman? She said, "I'll give you everything, I'll give you everything." She could see what was coming. It was just horrible. It was very sensational, and you could tell they were out for blood. They were going to make somebody pay for this horrible crime. It was going to be a feather in someone's cap to be able to get the death penalty in this case.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 03:09:13–03:11:22:

Then you hear her [Wanda Lopez] saying, "Please don't, I'll give you anything," and then you hear her scream. It's terrible. It's a terrifying scream, and you just know something terrible's happening, even if you did not know that she had died, that she was being killed at that moment. If you were to hear that tape, it was awful. And that was played at the trial. I remember, then, describing that for the audience, for the people who weren't in the courtroom. Just being, probably, one of the most compelling pieces of evidence even though she doesn't say who did this to me. It was one of the most compelling, sort of horrifying aspects of this case, to hear her die on tape and beg for her life. I certainly believe that played a part into the decision with the death penalty.

See supra note 13.

See supra note 13.

See supra Chapter 5, note 5 and accompanying text.

See, e.g., Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 19:59:44–20:02:58 ("Carlos DeLuna is not the person they said committed this crime. My brother Carlos could not do such a crime. I know that for a fact and still believe that. I believe that my brother was executed wrongfully. He wasn't given a chance. And he didn't commit this I know that.");

see supra Chapter 5, notes 101–107 and accompanying text.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 07:11:30–7:11:50 ("Q. At that time, the night of your sister's death until Dec 7, 1989 when Carlos DeLuna was executed, what were your feelings towards him? A. I didn't know the individual, only what I come to hear. I couldn't believe that he did it, for what reason. If he only knew my sister he wouldn't of done this.");

Linda Carrico, Judge Grants DeLuna Stay of Execution, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Oct. 15, 1986 ("[Wanda] Lopez's mother, said she was disappointed to hear of DeLuna's stay of execution. 'It's the only way I will feel that justice will be done because she didn't deserve to die,' an upset Mrs. Vargas told the Caller. 'I want him to pay for what he did to her. She offered him everything, yet he still killed her,' Mrs. Vargas said. 'I have asked over and over again, Why her?'").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 8, 2004) at 05:11:20–05:13:25:

A. Yes, when Wanda was killed that night, I was also currently working at a Diamond Shamrock at a different location. I got the news through a phone call from my mother at work letting me know that she had died.

Q. What was the situation where she [Wanda Lopez] was working? How did you feel, how did she feel about the situation where she was working at that Diamond Shamrock on South Padre Island Drive, at that time, working the night shift?

A. The Diamond Shamrock that Wanda worked at was a very small store, and it was next to a topless club, and she had been asking not to work alone at nights, for fear that something may happen. And I was working at another location, and at the location that I was at, there was never a single person alone at night. And this misfortune happened with her working alone.

Q. How safe did you feel her situation was, you being somebody who also knew what it was like to work at one of those places?

A. Well, I didn't think it was that safe . . . .

Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Becky and Jesse Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez and Her Husband (Sept. 28, 2004) at 2:

Becky started working at the Diamond Shamrock (D/S) at the intersection of Morgan and Baldwin in 1982 and was working there when Wanda was murdered. Wanda started working at the D/S by Wolfy's Bar on SPID before that. Becky and Wanda both had concerns about the safety at the D/S Wanda was working at on the night shift. At the D/S Becky worked on the night shift and there were always two people working. Wanda worked alone in what was considered to be a dangerous area as the D/S sat next to a topless bar that was allegedly owned and managed by a Bandito motorcycle gang.

Sita Sovin & Lauren Eskenazi's Notes on Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez (Oct. 26, 2004) at 2 ("Becky worked at the Shamrock on Baldwin Street. . . .").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 8, 2004) at 04:51:30–04:53:22:

A. [takes and holds up picture] This is my deceased cousin, that was killed in the Diamond Shamrock stabbing, while she was working. [camera zooms in on photograph] This is Wanda Lopez, she was my cousin. At the time that she was killed we were pretty close. I considered her my sister at the time. I have a half sister, but we didn't grow up together, so I considered Wanda my sister. She was a good friend to me. When we were hanging out together at the time of her death, I was married and having marital problems, so when I would call her she would come and pick me up. And her daughter and my daughter were about two years apart and they'd sit in the back seat and play. We'd just drive around and talk and share our thoughts and feelings. She was kind of like my savior at the time. She would take me and spend time with me and help me get through my problems that I had.

Q. At that time, tell me, how close in age were you? Or what the age difference was between you and Wanda approximately?

A. I was about seventeen, and she was about twenty-four years old, in age.

Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Becky and Jesse Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez and Her Husband (Sept. 28, 2004) at 1–2:

In 1982 Becky and Wanda started "hanging out" together. Wanda was not married at the time and had a daughter about the same age as Becky's daughter. Becky was born in 1964. Wanda was 7–8 years older than Becky but they both had children about the same age and both had a history of bad relationships with men. These shared characteristics brought them together and served as the foundation for their friendship. Becky and Wanda hung out together and shared their problems with one another. Becky's father owned a duplex and lived in one side of it. Becky rented the other side of the duplex and Wanda often visited her there. . . . Becky continued to see Wanda and claims, "Wanda was like a sister to me."

Sita Sovin & Lauren Eskenazi's Notes on Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez (Oct. 26, 2004) at 1, 3–4 ("Becky was around 16–17 years old when she started to hang out with Wanda. Wanda was approximately 7 years older than Becky—Wanda was around 24 years old. . . . Becky first married in 1979. She was very young. Becky was unhappy in her marriage and used to call Wanda to get out of the house. Becky cannot be sure when they hung out. But, if Wanda was killed in 1983, they were definitely hanging out in 1982."; "Besides that one time [when Wanda took Becky to a party with older guys], Becky and Wanda usually spent time alone together with their daughters.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 8, 2004) at 05:07:01–05:07:50 ("A. Wanda, she was a very kind friend to me. Even though she was my cousin, she was very real, very down to earth. She had a very happy spirit. She was never mean. She wasn't the type to cuss. She didn't have a vulgar language. She was very loving, very friendly, very outgoing. Q. One of the things that we've heard about Wanda is that she was, as you say, very outgoing. Liked to be around people. Very vibrant and bright. Is that right? A. Yes.").

Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Becky and Jesse Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez and her Husband (Sept. 28, 2004) at 2:

Becky started working at the Diamond Shamrock (D/S) at the intersection of Morgan and Baldwin in 1982 and was working there when Wanda was murdered. Wanda started working at the D/S by Wolfy's Bar on SPID before that. Becky and Wanda both had concerns about the safety at the D/S Wanda was working at on the night shift. At the D/S Becky worked on the night shift and there were always two people working. Wanda worked alone in what was considered to be a dangerous area as the D/S sat next to a topless bar that was allegedly owned and managed by a Bandito motorcycle gang.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 8, 2004) at 05:11:20–05:13:25:

A. Yes, when Wanda was killed that night, I was also currently working at a Diamond Shamrock at a different location. I got the news through a phone call from my mother at work letting me know that she had died.

Q. What was the situation where she [Wanda Lopez] was working? How did you feel, how did she feel about the situation where she was working at that Diamond Shamrock on South Padre Island Drive, at that time, working the night shift?

A. The Diamond Shamrock that Wanda worked at was a very small store, and it was next to a topless club, and she had been asking not to work alone at nights, for fear that something may happen. And I was working at another location, and at the location that I was at, there was never a single person alone at night. And this misfortune happened with her working alone.

Q. How safe did you feel her situation was, you being somebody who also knew what it was like to work at one of those places?

A. Well, I didn't think it was that safe . . . .

Sita Sovin & Lauren Eskenazi's Notes on Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez (Oct. 26, 2004) at 2 ("Becky worked at the Shamrock on Baldwin Street. . . .").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 8, 2004) at 05:11:20–05:13:25 ("Yes, when Wanda was killed that night, I was also currently working at a Diamond Shamrock at a different location. I got the news through a phone call from my mother at work letting me know that she had died.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 8, 2004) at 05:15:41–05:16:57:

Q. [H]ow did Wanda's death affect her parents and her brother? . . .

A. . . . I remember that night that they killed Wanda, I couldn't leave my job until somebody came to relieve me, so by the time I got to the hospital, they wouldn't allow me to see her body. So I went to Wanda's mother's house, which was just down the street from the hospital. She was just torn apart and crying with her Wanda's smock, we wore smocks at the time, blue smocks. And she was just curled in her blue smock, crying and crying. And she had this picture [indicates photograph of Wanda] next to her, in color. It was just an awful ordeal.

See supra note 24.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 8, 2004) at 05:19:43–5:20:33 ("I was in summer school, for high school, taking a couple of classes, and our history teacher, Mr. Crane, had asked us that part of our grade would be to visit a trial that was going on, in a murder case. And when he said whose trial it was, he said it was my cousin Wanda's trial. So I got to attend the trial a couple of times because of the school. And I was able to attend a couple of hearings where I got to know who Carlos DeLuna was.");

Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Becky and Jesse Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez and Her Husband (Sept. 28, 2004) at 2 ("One of Becky's . . . classes took a field trip to the courthouse to view the court process. Coincidently, the trial in session during the class visit was the De Luna case. Becky sat with her class in the court room and listened . . . .");

Sita Sovin & Lauren Eskenazi's Notes on Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez (Nov. 7, 2004) at 3 ("Becky watched part of DeLuna's trial. She went to court for a class she was taking.").

See supra note 26.

Sita Sovin & Lauren Eskenazi's Notes on Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez (Nov. 7, 2004) at 3 (noting that Becky was surprised that DeLuna didn't appear to be a killer and questioned whether he was guilty).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 8, 2004) at 05:22:20–05:23:52 ("Q. Becky, would you tell me what your reaction or impression was, describe your reaction or impression when you were watching that DeLuna trial for the killing of your cousin, Wanda? A. I think the worst part of the trial was when they aired the 911 call, where we heard her speaking and the operator speaking, and the questions that they had asked her. And at the end of the phone call, she's screaming, and then the phone hangs up. It was terrifying hearing her voice which was the last time we were ever going to hear her voice.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Becky Nesmith, Cousin of Wanda Lopez in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 8, 2004) at 05:22:20–05:23:52.

See Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep't. (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:10:23 p.m. (tape at 00:01:42) (Wanda Lopez screaming).

See Steve Schiwetz, Prosecutor, Opening Statement, Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 15, 1983) at 14–15 ("I'm going to call a deputy constable in that works for Constable Johnny Alaniz, Ruben Rivera. He will testify that he was on patrol in the general area and that his partner, Carolyn Vargas [and he] decided to help out the police when they heard this armed robbery going down and that, in fact, he helped arrest the Defendant in this case, Mr. Carlos De Luna, less than three blocks away from the Sigmor Station where Wanda Lopez was killed.").

Steve Schiwetz, Prosecutor, Opening Statement, Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 15, 1983) at 10–11, 12, 13 ("[George Aguirre] will testify that the man he saw in the police car was the same man he had seen earlier with the knife in his hand. . . . [H]e was the exact same man and looked the same as the fellow he had seen 30 minutes to an hour before."; "[Kevan Baker] will testify that shortly thereafter Mr. De Luna was brought back to the scene in a police car, that he didn't have a shirt on, but that Mr. De Luna was the man that he had seen 30 minutes to an hour earlier."; "Jorge [sic—John] Arsuaga looked at a photographic lineup, a lineup of six pictures, and that without any suggestion as to who he should pick out he did pick out a picture and he will testify that the picture he picked out was the Defendant, Carlos De Luna, and Carlos De Luna was the man he saw running away from the direction of the Sigmor Station.");

see also Julia Arsuaga, Witness to Man Running Near Shamrock Gas Station, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 351–53 (offering testimony similar to that the prosecutor's opening statement had forecast for her husband John Arsuaga).

Chapter 13
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