HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 16
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"Why did you let her talk on the phone [and] why did you stay [under] the truck" rather than running far away?187

"I didn't do it," Carlos said.188

That was "clear as a bell to me," Pickett told the investigators. "And I believed him."189

Pickett ministered to hundreds of terminal patients in the prison hospital—"heart attacks, C.O.P.D., AIDS, cancer, you name it," he said—and he watched ninety-five prisoners die in the execution chamber.190 "I went through this for sixteen years, listening to them on their last days and nights. I spent way too many hours, I suppose, listening to their last confession. But some of them I believed. And some of them I checked out."191 "I fully believe Carlos DeLuna was an innocent man," he continued, "and I will always believe that."192

Pickett helped Carlos practice his last words. The pastor felt he understood exactly what Carlos wanted to say, and why.193

* * * * *

The chaplain had gotten Carlos permission to make one last phone call, at 11:00 p.m., to a TV reporter he'd been corresponding with for years, Karen Boudrie.194 The guards were still away from DeLuna's cell. Boudrie was in Cincinnati visiting her parents. She was the last person DeLuna called.195

The TV journalist had thought about this moment for a long time196 and expected a confession,197 especially, she said, after Carlos "chose me to be the last person to talk with."198 In the past, he had admitted many other wrongs to her199 and had only curbed what he said about the killing of Wanda Lopez because of his appeals. Those were now over.200 "He had nothing to lose at this point," she told the investigators.201 There was no reason left why he wouldn't tell her the truth.202

Boudrie wasn't sure how to start a conversation with a man an hour away from death, to whom she had no relation, and who had chosen her to receive his last call.203 So, "ever the journalist," she said with a laugh, she just "gave him the opportunity . . . to say anything he wanted to say, to get it off his chest."204

"Do you have something you want to confess to me? Do you have something you want to tell me, Carlos?"205

"No," he said quietly. "[T]hey're putting to death an innocent man."206

For the first time, Boudrie said later, recalling what Carlos said, "it really hit me that maybe they were."207

Boudrie was "devastated." She hung up the phone and grabbed her mother, "just crying and crying."208 She didn't think it was going to happen so soon and felt guilty that she had never done the investigation she planned.209 "There's any number of things I could have done," she told the investigators, but it "wasn't until that last phone call that I really, truly believed him." By then, it was "too late."210

* * * * *

As midnight approached, Carlos asked Reverend Pickett to pray with him. Carlos had a little card in his pocket with a prayer printed on it. He said to Pickett, "I want to pray this prayer, but I can't read very well."211 Again, the chaplain was overcome by his impression of the young man. Even much later, as he thought about it again, he could barely keep his composure.212 This was not a hardened murderer. This was an immature, poorly educated, helpless boy on the verge of execution.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:03:50–22:10:44 ("The average convict will not stop a block away and hide underneath a truck. If they're going to run, you keep running and running and running. You get as far away from the scene as possible. . . . But Carlos wanted to talk about it, and we discussed those two issues: Why did you let her talk on the phone? And why did you stay on the truck? And he said, 'I didn't do it.' That's as clear as a bell to me. . . . And I believed him.").

See supra note 187.

See supra note 187.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:10:44–22:11:40:

In my opinion, having watched ninety-five die in the execution chamber—I watched hundreds that died—because we had the hospital. We had an intensive care. We had a Death Row in the hospital. The third floor, I had a hundred people that died over there from heart attacks, C.O.P.D., AIDS, cancer, you name it. And I went through this for sixteen years, listening to them on their last days and nights. I spent way too many hours, I suppose, listening to their last confession. But some of them I believed. And some of them I checked out, and they were innocent people. I fully believe Carlos DeLuna was an innocent man, and I will always believe that.

See Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:05:50–22:07:39:

And many of the convicts, between 10:15 and midnight, confessed to a lot of things for which they were not convicted. I began in the beginning saying some of them are just bragging. I began to check them out with friends of mine, without telling them. They were true. There was a lot of confession. At ten o'clock to midnight is a very traumatic situation. I went to my doctor, and he told me, "One of these days you're going to pay for all this, because you're taking in a lot of stuff you can't get out." And he was a cardiologist in Victoria. And I may be, right now, in that position at this very minute [given heart trouble Pickett was suffering at the time of the interview].

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:10:44–22:11:40.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:10:44–22:11:40;

James S. Liebman's Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain (July 11, 2004) at 3 ("Rev P[ickett]: 'I would honestly say from the bottom of my heart, he [Carlos DeLuna] was not capable of killing anyone. That is why it was so difficult to watch him die for that reason.'");

Susan Montez, Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain (July 17, 2004) at 2 ("Reverend Pickett then said, 'He didn't do it, you know. He told me he was innocent, and I believed him.' I asked Reverend to confirm this, and he said, 'Yes. He couldn't have done it.'").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:19:01–22:22:08 ("Carlos and I practiced what he was going to say. . . . Carlos never admitted to the crime. He did not apologize or ask forgiveness from the family of who was killed. His concern was for his family. He was concerned for the friends he had on Death Row. One of his last words, which are very, very important, 'Don't give up.' Because many of them are striving to prove their innocence.");

see also Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:17:05–22:19:01:

Even Carlos's final words are not accurate in that book [prepared by the Texas Department of Corrections]. In fact, they're not accurate in any book, or in a magazine. I would tell the convicts and the inmates, "The only way they're going to quote exactly what you say is if you say nothing." And this is true of many people. What Carlos said—I'm five inches from his leg. I would hear what he said, I would—We practiced, ok? He and I practiced at 11:30 what he wanted to say. So I knew what he wanted to say. Some of them wanted me to help them do it, and I couldn't do it. I was not allowed to. But I know that there was a person writing down, exactly, his words. . . . But the ones [last words] in this book, and the ones that were on TV [were not accurate].

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:26:53–22:28:55:

Telephone rang at midnight. All the guards stayed away from the cell. He [Carlos DeLuna] didn't want to talk to anybody but me. And we had made that last telephone call . . . We'd made calls that night. His family visited in the daytime, and then I went over to the hospitality house to visit them, and they decided they . . . didn't want to witness [the execution]. And he wanted to talk to me about it, and to tell them goodbye, and the family wanted to tell him goodbye. And we worked out a deal over at the hospitality house. Bob Norris was super. That house wasn't built for that purpose but we turned it into that. But he called. I got permission for him to call. The warden always . . . he never asked me why he wanted to do all these things. So he made that call to his family, and called to the one sister who couldn't come, and called . . . [TV reporter Karen Boudrie] in—I think it's Cincinnati, Ohio, somewhere up there, I may have to look it up. And then after that it was all just me and him. He just wanted to talk. We'd talk about anything. He would ask me a question about what it's going to feel like, and I told him. I told him it's going to take . . . . To my knowledge, it will take nine to twelve seconds for that first medication to go to work. And you'll be totally asleep, you won't feel another thing. And he said, "Will you be with me, daddy?" I said, "I'll be with right with you." He said, "Will you hold my hand?" I told him before we got in there, "There are only certain times I can hold your hand, only certain times." This was the only inmate . . . all of them asked me to maintain contact, or wipe their brow, or don't let anybody see sweat, things like that. But Carlos wanted me to hold his hand.

See James S. Liebman's Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain (July 11, 2004) at 1 ("[T]ime of visit with CDL [Carlos DeLuna] is indicated: Rosemary & Brad, 10–12[;] Daniel Conejo & Maria Conejo12–2 [;] Maria Arendando & Vickey Gutierrez 2–3[;] Rosemary & Brad [again.] Called [i.e., telephoned, members of] his family 8:37–8:50 at hospitality house. Toni Pena—wanted to make a call to her. He did call her 9:04–9:26 p.m. Karen Boutard [sic—Boudrie] in Cincinnati, OH. Called her last.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:25:30–01:37:29 ("Imagine getting that phone call from him. Thinking, this man is about to die, why did you choose me as the last person to talk to aside from the people that, obviously, would be around there.");

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:49:39–01:50:59:

Q. Start with that last phone call. You say it came within a couple hours of his execution.

A. 10:50 p.m. [Texas time], which was—I was an hour ahead [in Ohio], and I remember him telling me, he said, "At one a.m. your time the process will begin." So he was an hour and ten minutes from midnight in Texas at that time. So it was just a little over an hour before his execution.

Q. Were his appeals over at that point?

A. Yes. He informed me that his last attempt had been denied . . . late that evening. He informed me that that was it, everything had been exhausted, there were going to be no further stays. He knew that this was it, there was nothing else.

See supra Chapter 13, note 8 and accompanying text; supra Chapter 15, notes 311–312 and accompanying text.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:25:30–01:37:29, 01:50:20–1:51:53:

A. I gave him the opportunity, ever the journalist, to say anything he wanted to say, to get it off his chest. If he wanted to admit that, after all this time, "Yeah, I did commit this crime." . . . I felt there were things he wanted to get off his chest, and he did. I wasn't family, I wasn't clergy, but I was more of an objective observer who he felt comfortable telling things to because I was objective, and I wasn't automatically dismissing everything he said as a typical inmate trying to save his butt at the last minute, or one who's found religion, like they all have.

See supra Chapter 13, note 8 and accompanying text; supra Chapter 15, notes 311–312 and accompanying text.

See supra note 197.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:30:50–01:31:35, 01:37:29–01:39:20:

Every time I talked to Carlos, and in every letter, he talked about how his life had gone astray but he always denied committing this crime. . . . He had always admitted other wrongs, the ways his life had gone astray, getting in with the wrong crowd. We talked about that a little bit in that last conversation as well. But he never admitted that one crime for which he was dying for. Again, what do you say to someone who's about to die? I'm not clergy. I don't profess to have some great wisdom. Just being someone that had been there and listened to him, I hoped I was somewhat comforting to him.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:49:50–01:50:59:

Q. Start with that last phone call. You say it came within a couple hours of his execution.

A. 10:50 p.m. [Texas time], which was—I was an hour ahead [in Ohio], and I remember him telling me, he said, "At one a.m. your time the process will begin." So he was an hour and ten minutes from midnight in Texas at that time. So it was just a little over an hour before his execution.

Q. Were his appeals over at that point?

A. Yes. He informed me that his last attempt had been denied . . . late that evening. He informed me that that was it, everything had been exhausted, there were going to be no further stays. He knew that this was it, there was nothing else.

See Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 03:18:55 ("He [DeLuna] didn't go into it [his case] a lot [while his appeals were still going on]. He professed his innocence. He would not talk about Carlos Hernandez because of the appeals. He didn't want to say anything that would taint his appeal . . . . Nobody was really trying to find Carlos Hernandez for him, unfortunately. But Carlos really didn't want to get into that. He would not let me delve into who [committed the crime] . . . .").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:25:30:

He had nothing to lose at this point. Maybe get it off his chest and tell one human being. He chose me to be last person to talk with—why wouldn't he tell me? I'm the person he supposedly trusted. Did he want to take it to his grave, or was he really telling the truth? I found it interesting that, given that situation, that if he was guilty, why wouldn't he just say so? Because of his whole demeanor and the way he changed over the years, I felt it was something he would have wanted to do had he committed the crime.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:25:30.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:25:30–01:37:29, 01:25:30–01:37:29 ("Imagine getting that phone call from him. Thinking, this man is about to die, why did you choose me as the last person to talk to aside from the people that, obviously, would be around there."; "Then this overwhelming feeling of, 'What do I say to this man? How do I comfort him? Should I comfort him? What is my role here? What am I supposed to do?' Sort of a feeling of helplessness, really. So I let him do a lot of talking.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:25:30–01:37:29, 01:50:20–1:51:53:

A. I gave him the opportunity, ever the journalist, to say anything he wanted to say, to get it off his chest. If he wanted to admit that, after all this time, "Yeah, I did commit this crime." . . .

Q. What did that suggest to you about the likelihood that at a that point he might want, need to be honest with you as he was approaching the end?

A. I felt there were things he wanted to get off his chest, and he did. I wasn't family, I wasn't clergy, but I was more of an objective observer who he felt comfortable telling things to because I was objective, and I wasn't automatically dismissing everything he said as a typical inmate trying to save his butt at the last minute, or one who's found religion, like they all have.

See Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:25:30–01:37:29:

Maybe get it off his chest and tell one human being. He chose me to be last person to talk with—why wouldn't he tell me? I'm the person he supposedly trusted. Did he want to take it to his grave, or was he really telling the truth? I found it interesting that, given that situation, that if he was guilty, why wouldn't he just say so? Because of his whole demeanor and the way he changed over the years, I felt it was something he would have wanted to do had he committed the crime.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:25:30:

I said, "Carlos, is there anything you want to tell me? Do you want to tell me anything about what really happened?" He said, "No, they're putting to death an innocent man." And I think at that point it really hit me that maybe they were. He had nothing to lose at this point. Maybe get it off his chest and tell one human being. He chose me to be last person to talk with—why wouldn't he tell me? I'm the person he supposedly trusted. Did he want to take it to his grave, or was he really telling the truth? I found it interesting that, given that situation, that if he was guilty, why wouldn't he just say so? Because of his whole demeanor and the way he changed over the years, I felt it was something he would have wanted to do had he committed the crime.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:51:53 ("I asked him point-blank, 'Do you have something you want to confess to me? Do you have something you want to tell me, Carlos?' He said, 'No, I didn't commit this crime that they're killing me for.'").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:25:30 ("I said, 'Carlos, is there anything you want to tell me? Do you want to tell me anything about what really happened?' He said, 'No, they're putting to death an innocent man.' And I think at that point it really hit me that maybe they were. He had nothing to lose at this point.");

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:50:59–1:53:55:

He knew I would be objective with the information that he shared with me, and he shared with me quite a bit. But again, he still denied. He knew he had an hour, a little over an hour to live. He knew there was no hope of any last minute stay or reprieve for him. I asked him point-blank, "Do you have something you want to confess to me? Do you have something you want to tell me, Carlos?" He said, "No, I didn't commit this crime that they're killing me for." But he said he had made peace. He said, "There's nothing I can do." He admitted that he was scared to die, but he said he wasn't going to fight it, he wasn't going to go kicking and screaming. I remember him telling me to tell his sister that he loved her, and that it would be ok for her to talk to her. I asked him, I said, "One day, I don't know when, Carlos, but I'd like to write about you and this." He gave me his blessing for that, and said I could talk [to] his sister and his family in Dallas if I wanted to. He talked a little bit about being the black sheep, and admitted some things that he had done, getting into trouble in the past. Wished that his life had gone differently, that he had gotten in with a different crowd and had a different upbringing, so to speak. Again, he had the perfect opportunity to cleanse his soul and tell somebody, get it off his chest. I might have been the perfect person for that, and that didn't happen. And I asked him. I don't think he had anything to tell me other than what he told me. There was nothing to admit to. I believe that.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:25:30 ("I said, 'Carlos, is there anything you want to tell me? Do you want to tell me anything about what really happened?' He said, 'No, they're putting to death an innocent man.' And I think at that point it really hit me that maybe they were. He had nothing to lose at this point.");

see also Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:39:20–1:41:22, 1:55:33–1:57:31:

This case affected me. Before, I was all for capital punishment, and thought it was—As murders go, I've seen and read and covered even more brutal and heinous crimes than this one in particular. There were many times I thought, "That person needs to be put to death." But over the years it's changed for me. This case has done that. If we put to death one innocent man, then what's the point? We can put him away for life, but you can't say "oops, we goofed" after someone's been put to death. . . . All I know is it's definitely changed my opinion of the death penalty . . . .

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:53:55–01:55:33:

I was devastated. I remember hanging up the phone and just grabbing my mother and just crying and crying. She and I just fell down, just sat down on the floor and just cried and cried. I said I really didn't think this was going to happen so soon. That I couldn't believe it was happening, I couldn't believe that he called me. The whole thing was overwhelming, and I was just feeling guilty again that I hadn't done more to help him. . . . I could have stood up, I could have protested out front, I could have pounded on the governor's mansion, anything. Done more stories, gotten more attention, tried to raise money for better to get legal counsel. There's any number of things I could have done. But it probably wasn't until that last phone call that I really, truly believed him. Maybe if I had had an opportunity to have some kind of revelation like that at an earlier time, maybe I would have jumped on board on his behalf and tried to do more. But it was too little, too late, and that was a very frustrating feeling.

See supra note 208.

See supra note 208.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:19:01–22:22:08:

But Carlos and I practiced what he was going to say. If you notice the real words, Carlos never admitted to the crime. He did not apologize or ask forgiveness from the family of who was killed. His concern was for his family. He was concerned for the friends he had on Death Row. One of his last words, which are very, very important, "Don't give up." Because many of them are striving to prove their innocence. 120, I believe it is, in America, have been taken off Death Row in the last three years or four years, who were found to be innocent. I believe Carlos was one of those. But as we approached midnight, he began to talk more and more. When he asked me to pray for him, he had a little card in his pocket. Now this is not material that's in the book. But he had a little card in his pocket. And he said, "I can't read very well." How would a human being feel about another human being? Everything that he did, to me, was to show his immaturity or his—he had not a very good education, or any education at all. But he was not a mean person. He didn't have a list of 40 different crimes. And he pulled that card out, he said, "I want to pray this prayer, but I can't read very well." . . . "Will you read this prayer for me." Now, we were not permitted . . . we were not permitted to touch an inmate, but he wanted me to hold my hand, he wanted me to hold his hands. I'd been warned by the warden, never let a convict . . . never put your hands through the gate, through the bars. Because they can either pull you forward . . . . And we had on Death Row out here, not long ago, a chaplain put his hands through, and the guy had a knife, and he slit his arm open wide. But that didn't bother me about Carlos. I put my hands through those bars, and he grabbed me like he was holding on for dear life. He was going to die, he was going to die in just a few minutes.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:19:01–22:22:08.

Chapter 16
Page: 11 of 16