HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 16
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Chapter 16

Execution

About the time Carlos DeLuna arrived on death row, Rosie Esquivel was working in a warehouse in Garland, Texas with Mary Conejo, the wife of Carlos's half-brother Danny. Mary asked Rosie if she'd be willing to write Carlos sometimes to help keep his spirits up.1 Although Rosie had never met Carlos, she was about his age, and in her succinct and straightforward way said she didn't have a problem with that.2 Over the next six years, she wrote Carlos and received "hundreds" of letters back from him.3 She saved them in a big box for a long time but threw them out a couple of years before the private investigators found her in Garland in 2004.4

Rosie also visited Carlos on death row a few times and was struck by how handsome and well-mannered he was, a lot more so than the guys who paid her any attention on the outside.5 Even so, it was hard to invest that much time in someone on death row without asking the obvious question, and, in her straightforward way, Rosie asked it. Did he kill the girl?6

"Carlos never liked talking about what happened. He would rather look to the future," Rosie remembered.7 But when she asked Carlos, he answered. "[H]e did not kill the woman . . . it was another Carlos, I think Hernandez."8

Rosie believed him. "I know you hear that [they are] all nice guys. They are really not nice," Rosie said, emphasizing the "not."9 She'd had her share of bad experiences with cons and ex-cons, including Carlos's brother Manuel some years later, and felt confident in the comparison based on experience.10 "Carlos, he was [a nice guy]. He was a gentleman. I don't think he could have done it."11

Rosie tried to follow Carlos's appeals—his lawyers, his chances—but it was confusing. "Carlos fought all the way to the end," she knew. "He maintained his innocence all the way to the end."12 He told her his lawyers were doing something called "habeas corpus." She didn't know what that was, but she knew it wasn't about his innocence.13 Carlos told her that he'd talked to his lawyers many times about Carlos Hernandez.14 "I tell them this. I give them all the information," she remembered him saying. "They just don't want to listen."15

"He fought the way he could fight," Rosie said, finally. "Sometimes he just wanted to give up. They just would not listen to him when he told them it was someone else."16

Rosie knew that Carlos's last appeal hadn't worked out for him, but she was surprised when she got a call on a Wednesday in early December 1989 from Carlos's sister Rose. "She told me that Carlos was up for execution that night. They were hoping for a stay of his execution."17 Carlos "was afraid," his sister had said. Rosie prayed for him.18

* * * * *

Ever since Judge Head had ruled against him on his first habeas petition in federal court in June 1988, Carlos had done his best to prepare himself and his sisters for what might be next. He said he was prepared to die,19 that if he should be executed, "it's okay, don't worry, I'm okay."20

Most of the time, the best explanation he could come up with for what was happening was simple fatalism. Someone else laid the cards on the table, he just played along—that's how Karen Boudrie described his thinking.21 "Whatever happens, happens," he told his sister Rose.22 "But I did not commit this crime," he continued. "I want you to know that."23

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:38:49–23:40:45:

A. I was working at a warehouse, and I got my cousin in. She knew somebody else that wanted to work. We talked to the owner, so it was Mary Conejo who came and applied and worked there with us. I can't remember how long it was down the road that she had asked me to write to Carlos DeLuna, her brother-in-law. I told her I would, yes, I didn't have a problem with it. Because he was in prison, on Death Row, at the time. I know the DeLunas through Mary Conejo, because I worked with her. Every once in a while I stopped by the house and some of her relatives would be there and I would meet them.

Q. Who is Mary Conejo married to?

A. Mary Conejo is married to Danny Conejo, which is Carlos DeLuna's [half] brother.

Q. And what other members of the siblings did you get to know at the time?

A. I got to know Manuel, his brother, which I had a relationship with. I knew more of his family through Manuel. I knew [Carlos's half-sister] Ton[i]. I was introduced to [half-sister] Vicki. Rose, I had already known through the writings with Carlos.

Peso Chavez's Notes on Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row (Aug. 18, 2004) at 1 ("In the . . . 80's Ms. Esquivel worked with Mary Conejo, Carlos DeLuna's sister-in-law and was aware that Carlos was on death row. She became a pen pal and the letter writing began. Over the years hundreds of letters were written—two years ago Ms. Esquivel discarded them").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:30:03–23:30:45, 23:33:20–23:33:51 (describing her relationship with Manuel and her anger at him when they broke up);

see Peso Chavez's Notes on Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 18, 2004) at 1 ("Ms. Esquivel lives at the above address with her mother and father and her only child Bridgette (11) whose father is Manuel DeLuna. Bridget has never met her father in person and has only communicated with him by phone or through letters.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:38:17–23:39:00 ("I believed him [Carlos DeLuna] when he told me he didn't do it. He sounded sincere and he was sincere about it. He wasn't the type that would. He was well-mannered. He was really nice. I know you hear that [they are] all nice guys. They are really not nice. Carlos, he was. He was a gentleman. I don't think he could have done it.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:45:40–23:50:34:

A. [Carlos DeLuna] fought up until his death. Like I said, they didn't listen to him. He gave enough information, he thought, Carlos DeLuna thought, but it just wasn't there, it wasn't there for him.

Q. Reflecting back on it if you would, Rosie, if you would. Just ask and answer for yourself, why is it that Carlos DeLuna couldn't get the help he needed or get the facts out, the truth out. Why was it, in your view, that he was executed? What happened, what broke down or didn't work?

A. It's hard to say what happened. There's a lot of things that happened in this case. Maybe money, maybe not enough money. Maybe people just didn't want to listen to someone, to a youthful troublemaker that was in a wrong place at the wrong time and felt like he did it. Not willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He's just another troublemaker out of the way. They didn't want to listen to him at all. But he fought, Carlos fought all the way to the end. He maintained his innocence all the way to the end. Most killers don't. . . . But Carlos wasn't sorry for anything that he's done. Because he didn't do it. He didn't believe he did it. He believed he did not do it. And I believe he didn't do it. I believe that this other Carlos Hernandez did. And they just didn't want to listen to him. He said it numerous times. I don't know if he was telling the right people, or his lawyers didn't do what they could for him. I don't know. He really didn't mention . . . He did mention that his lawyers were doing this hab—

Q. Habeas corpus.

A. Habeas corpus. I don't know what that is. But that he was doing that, his lawyers, Carlos DeLuna's lawyers were doing that. And I know that he did tell me, "They just don't want to listen. I tell them this. I give them all the information. They just don't want to listen."

Q. What did he tell them?

A. He gave up the name. He gave up the fact that Carlos Hernandez was the one that went into the store. He had nothing to do with this crime. He only ran because he, you know, he just got out of prison. He was on probation. He didn't want anything to happen to him.

See supra note 12.

See supra note 12.

See supra note 12.

Peso Chavez's Notes on Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 18, 2004) at 2 ("She summed up the interview by saying, 'He fought the way he could fight. Sometimes he just wanted to give up. They just would not listen to him when he told them it was someone else.'").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:36:35–23:37:45:

I was surprised [to learn about Carlos DeLuna's December 7, 1989 execution date]. I knew that his last appeal, he had told me it didn't work out for him. I got the call from Rose [Rhoton]. I didn't know the actual date that he was going to get executed. But when I got a phone call from Rose, she told me that Carlos was up for execution that night. They were hoping for a stay of his execution. He said he didn't want to call me, he didn't want to talk to me or anything like that, because he was afraid. When I talked to Rose that night, I think I prayed. I prayed for him, up until I guess I heard that he had been executed. I was sad. I didn't think it would happen.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:36:35–23:37:45.

Letter from Carlos DeLuna to Vicky Gutierrez, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (June 30, 1988):

I am sure you heard the federal court in corpus Christi rule against me on my appeal that means I well be going back so they can set another date of execution. I have a good chance of being put to death this time around because its getting to a point where the courts just don't want to hear our appeals any more on Death row. . . . I sometimes sit here at nights and I cry to myself and I wonder how could I have ever let some stupid thing like this happen because of a friend who did it and I kept my mouth shut about it all. But I don't blame any one but my self and I accept that, that is why I well accept If the state of Texas decides to execute me. I want you to rember that no matter what happen I will never forget All of you'll and I will always love all of you'll. They might be able to kill me but they can't kill love or memories. always keep that In mind.

See also Transcribed Videotape Interview with Vicky Gutierrez, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 01:01:50–01:11:04 (quoting Carlos DeLuna's June 30, 1988 letter);

supra Chapter 15, note 204 and accompanying text.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:38:49–23:40:45.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:47:20–20:50:10:

Q. What is your judgment about your brother's [religious] convictions at the end of his life?

A. Carlos, not just because he was in jail, because he started saying, "I got saved, I believe in God," and this and this and that. At the end, Carlos was peaceful. He was very peaceful at the end. He knew that he was forgiven. He knew that.

Q. Do you think he also knew that, although he had done bad things, he'd put his family through a lot?

A. Oh, yeah. He even told me, "I want you to know that I'm so sorry for all the things that I did to cause all this agony, all this hurt. And to see you here, visiting me in prison, in Death Row. All this shame." "[Indicating Rose's response to Carlos's statements:] Don't worry about it. It's no big deal. I love you. I know you didn't commit this crime." At the end, Carlos was very— He said, "Whatever happens, happens. But I did not commit this crime. I want you to know that." I told him, "Oh, I know that." I just did not know how to help him. I didn't know. I didn't know what to do. And he said, "I'm ok with it. I'm ok, it's ok, I'm ok. Should I be executed, it's ok, don't worry, I'm ok. Maybe this is the way it's going to be for all the things that I did in the past. Maybe this is just my destiny."

Q. You say he was peaceful at the end. I'm struck by that because Reverend Pickett said he was peaceful.

A. Very peaceful.

Q. Reverend Pickett thought that maybe his sense of what he had done wrong, but also what he had not done wrong, may have contributed to that peacefulness. That he knew where he stood, even if the state of Texas or everybody else did not. How do you feel about that?

A. I believe Carlos, in his heart, accepted that he was going to be executed. That it was going to be ok, because of all the hurt that he caused, all the hurt that he did—not on this crime that he was convicted for—but all the other things that he did, would even things out. I believe that he thought that, in his mind. And he was very peaceful about it. What hurt him the most was having me watch him, for me to be on the other side, seeing him going through this and being executed. He knew it was going to devastate me. He knew that. And I believe that I know, in his heart, that that's what bothered him the most, is to watch the ones that cared for him go through so much pain.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 03:25:12–03:26:03 (paraphrasing Carlos DeLuna's statements in a letter Boudrie received from Carlos DeLuna shortly after his execution: "I, at times, wonder if we, as humans, do really have any control with our own destiny. I don't think so. I believe the cards are already laid out on the table and all we do is play along.");

see also Kathy Fair, Murderer DeLuna is Put to Death, Hous. Chron., Dec. 7, 1989 at 33A ("A self-described black sheep who believed his death sentence was part of some pre-ordained blueprint today became the fourth person executed in Texas this year.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:47:20–20:50:10:

Q. What is your judgment about your brother's [religious] convictions at the end of his life?

A. Carlos, not just because he was in jail, because he started saying, "I got saved, I believe in God," and this and this and that. At the end, Carlos was peaceful. He was very peaceful at the end. He knew that he was forgiven. He knew that.

Q. Do you think he also knew that, although he had done bad things, he'd put his family through a lot?

A. Oh, yeah. He even told me, "I want you to know that I'm so sorry for all the things that I did to cause all this agony, all this hurt. And to see you here, visiting me in prison, in Death Row. All this shame." "[Indicating Rose's response to Carlos's statements:] Don't worry about it. It's no big deal. I love you. I know you didn't commit this crime." At the end, Carlos was very— He said, "Whatever happens, happens. But I did not commit this crime. I want you to know that." I told him, "Oh, I know that." I just did not know how to help him. I didn't know. I didn't know what to do. And he said, "I'm ok with it. I'm ok, it's ok, I'm ok. Should I be executed, it's ok, don't worry, I'm ok. Maybe this is the way it's going to be for all the things that I did in the past. Maybe this is just my destiny."

Q. You say he was peaceful at the end. I'm struck by that because Reverend Pickett said he was peaceful.

A. Very peaceful.

Q. Reverend Pickett thought that maybe his sense of what he had done wrong, but also what he had not done wrong, may have contributed to that peacefulness. That he knew where he stood, even if the state of Texas or everybody else did not. How do you feel about that?

A. I believe Carlos, in his heart, accepted that he was going to be executed. That it was going to be ok, because of all the hurt that he caused, all the hurt that he did—not on this crime that he was convicted for—but all the other things that he did, would even things out. I believe that he thought that, in his mind. And he was very peaceful about it. What hurt him the most was having me watch him, for me to be on the other side, seeing him going through this and being executed. He knew it was going to devastate me. He knew that. And I believe that I know, in his heart, that that's what bothered him the most, is to watch the ones that cared for him go through so much pain.

See supra note 22.

See Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:32:57–23:33:20 ("I had a box, I'd say about this wide, like this, and about this tall. And they were filled with letters from him. As far as measurements, I really can't tell you how big a box it was. Q. What happened to that box? A. I finally got rid of it, all the letters. I'm not sure if it was because I was mad at his [Carlos's] brother [Manuel DeLuna]. I probably decided it was time to move on.");

Peso Chavez's Notes on Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 18, 2004) at 1.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005), at 23:32:57–23:33:20;

Peso Chavez's Notes on Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 18, 2004) at 1.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:32:24–23:32:34, 23:38:17–23:39:00 ("I believe I may have visited him [on death row] about three or four times"; "He was well-mannered. He was really nice. I know you hear that [they are] all nice guys. They are really not nice. Carlos, he was. He was a gentleman. I don't think he could have done it.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:41:58–23:43:15 ("When I asked him if he did kill . . . I asked Carlos DeLuna if he did kill the girl, and . . . he said no.");

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:39:00–23:40:25:

Q. [Asking Esquivel to confirm a statement in notes an investigator made during an earlier interview, which the investigator read to her:] "In the early 1980s, Ms. Esquivel worked with Mary Conejo, Carlos DeLuna's sister-in-law, and was aware that Carlos was on Death Row. She became a pen pal, and the letter writing began. Over the years, hundreds of letters were written. Some years ago, Ms. Esquivel discarded them. Between the letter writing and several personal visits, Ms. Equivel was of the opinion that Carlos DeLuna did not kill the person he was convicted of. She bases this opinion on a number of factors, including statements Carlos made to her. She stated"—and this is a quotation —"'Carlos never liked talking about what had happened. He would rather look to the future. But he told me on numerous occasions that he did not kill the woman, and that it was another Carlos, I think Hernandez. He said he was not involved in any way. When he told me this, I believed him. It was the way he looked at me when he told me. He sounded sincere and truthful. The only other thing he told me was that he ran when he saw the cops and they found him hiding under a car.'" Is that an accurate statement of yours?

A. Yes.

See supra note 6.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:39:00–23:40:25.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:38:17–23:39:00 ("I believed him [Carlos DeLuna] when he told me he didn't do it. He sounded sincere and he was sincere about it. He wasn't the type that would. He was well-mannered. He was really nice. I know you hear that [they are] all nice guys. They are really not nice. Carlos, he was. He was a gentleman. I don't think he could have done it.").

Chapter 16
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