HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 16
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All Chapter 16 Footnotes

A description of that darkened window introduces Chapter Thirteen of Pickett's book, to illustrate the importance he placed on "reading" the personality of each man on death watch and "avoid[ing] any attitude or mannerism that might set [him] off."64 "It was those prisoners who were mentally retarded," Pickett wrote, who were the most difficult to read."65

Chapter Thirteen then discusses two Death House inmates. The first is Johnny Paul Penry, who, Pickett wrote, "came to the Death House in 1989 with crayons and a coloring book and comics he couldn't read."66 Penry was never executed, however.67 The Supreme Court gave him a last-minute reprieve, and overturned his death sentence later in 1989.68

It was in Penry's case that the Supreme Court had criticized Texas for making it difficult for jurors to consider "mitigating" evidence.69 Kristen Weaver spent the day scheduled for DeLuna's execution trying to convince the Court to apply its Penry decision to Carlos DeLuna, as a reason to grant him a last-minute reprieve.70

Pickett wrote in Chapter Thirteen that, after hours "trying in vain to make [Penry] understand what would happen to him once we entered the death chambers," and just before the Supreme Court intervened, the minister noticed his latest congregant "idly thumbing through a comic book . . . lost in a world of make-believe [and] occasionally laugh[ing] quietly to himself."71 Penry's "innocent, childlike sounds chilled me," Pickett recalled.72

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"Carlos DeLuna shared a troubling kinship with Penry," Pickett wrote, introducing the other inmate whose Death House day Pickett chronicles in Chapter Thirteen.73 "Though he was twenty-seven when I met him, he seemed much younger. That he'd managed to pass through the first nine years of public school was a sad commentary on our education system," the minister wrote.74 "As we talked, I found myself trying to imagine my own children—teenagers at the time—attempting to grasp the concept of their own death."75

Much of what Pickett did during the hours he spent with an inmate was to answer his questions about how the process of killing him would unfold. Chapter Thirteen categorizes inmates by the amount and quality of their curiosity about their impending death.76 Inmates of average and above-average intelligence had "an endless series of questions" about the different steps of the process. Those of lower intelligence "seemed disoriented."77 Some couldn't latch onto any thought at all. That was Johnny Paul Penry.78

Pickett placed Carlos DeLuna on the same end of the scale. "[H]e demonstrated the characteristics that, since Penry, I'd so often prayed never to see again. . . . [H]e had no real understanding of why he was there."79 "[A]ll DeLuna was concerned with was what pain he might feel when the needles were inserted into his arms."80

Pickett replayed his conversation with Carlos:

"It'll be like getting a shot in the doctor's office," I tried to explain.

"You promise it won't hurt?"

"I promise."

"Will you hold my hand?"

That, I told him, would not be possible.

"Why?"

Because, I explained, his hands would be taped down to the gurney. . . . [W]hen the warden removed his glasses, it would be the signal for the injections to begin, and I assured him that once they started it would be no more than seven to twelve seconds before he was unconscious. Several times before the time came for him to leave the cell, we counted the numbers off together: one . . . two . . . three . . . .81

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Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 172–73:

At times, I had seen fear cause a cold sweat to appear on the faces of correctional officers who were clearly unsettled by their duty. Adopting a whistling-through-the-graveyard attitude, they would mask their own apprehension with constant joking. In a misguided attempt to lighten the mood, they would only anger the prisoner. On the other hand, if they appeared in a somber mood, it too rubbed off quickly. It was critical that a proper balance be struck, that everyone avoid any attitude or mannerism that might set an inmate off.

It was those prisoners who were mentally retarded who were the most difficult to read. Despite public assurances from the governor's office [of Texas, during the administrations of Governor George W. Bush and Rick Perry] and the White House that no one lacking the capacity to fully understand what was taking place was ever put to death, I beg to disagree, having spent time with many incompetent prisoners up to the moment of their executions.

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 173.

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 173.

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 174 ("Yet, on the night I spent with Penry, trying in vain to make him understand what would happen to him once we entered the death chamber, the Supreme Court intervened, providing him with a stay of execution.").

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 175; see supra Chapter 15, notes 254–259 and accompanying text.

See supra Chapter 15, notes 256–259 and accompanying text.

See infra notes 128–145 and accompanying text.

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 174, 175 ("[O]n the night I spent with Penry, trying in vain to make him understand what would happen to him once we entered the death chamber, the Supreme Court intervened, providing him with a stay of execution"; "On that . . . night, before the Supreme Court ruling saved him [Penry], the time for entering the death chamber was drawing near when I noticed that Penry, having finished his last meal, was idly thumbing through a comic book. As he studied the colorful pages, lost in a world of make-believe, he would occasionally laugh quietly to himself. Those innocent, childlike sounds chilled me.").

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 175.

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 175.

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 175–76. In fact, Carlos DeLuna dropped out in the eighth grade. See also James S. Liebman's Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, (July 11, 2004), at 1 ("I got very involved in DeLuna case. Calls [Pickett] 'Daddy'—CDL [Carlos DeLuna] did this. . . . Re: DeLuna: To me, he was a child; he started it; he called me daddy.");

Susan Montez's Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain (July 17, 2004) at 2, 8 ("He said Carlos was so young, not mature at all, and had to live in fear. On the day Carlos was executed, he became younger and younger. He began to call Reverend Pickett 'Daddy,' and begged the Reverend not to leave him. Carlos also wanted Reverend Pickett to hold his hand at the end . . . . The Reverend stayed with Carlos, except when he had to go out and talk with the visitors"; "Carlos DeLuna was a good person. He was like a baby. He was not at all like a typical prisoner condemned to death. He never really understood what was happening to him, or why he was there.") (emphasis in original).

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 176.

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 176. ("While the inmate of average or above-average intelligence was always focused, those with low I.Q.s seemed disoriented . . . . When the time came to describe the procedures that would occur inside the death chamber, most have an endless series of questions. But all DeLuna was concerned with was what pain he might feel when the needles were inserted into his arm.").

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 176.

See supra notes 67–72 and accompanying text.

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 176 ("Upon his arrival at the Death House, he [Carlos DeLuna] demonstrated the characteristics that, since the Penry case, I'd so often prayed never to see again. Like several I had encountered before him, he had no real understanding of why he was there."); Susan Montez's Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain (July 17, 2004) at 2, 8 ("He said Carlos was so young, not mature at all, and had to live in fear. On the day Carlos was executed, he became younger and younger. He began to call Reverend Pickett "Daddy," and begged the Reverend not to leave him. Carlos also wanted Reverend Picket to hold his hand at the end . . . . The Reverend stayed with Carlos, except when he had to go out and talk with the visitors"; "Carlos DeLuna was a good person. He was like a baby. He was not at all like a typical prisoner condemned to death. He never really understood what was happening to him, or why he was there.") (emphasis in original);

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 ("Ted Koppel . . . came to watch the execution of Mario Marquez, who was mentally retarded, who was very much, in my mind, like Carlos. Very much like him.").

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 176; see Susan Montez's Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain (July 17, 2004) at 4 ("Reverend Pickett said that Carlos was concerned about whether the execution by injection of drugs would hurt. Reverend Pickett told him he would be asleep in 7 to 12 seconds.").

See supra note 80.

Chapter 16
Page: 5 of 16