HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 16
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During a decade and a half as the death chaplain, Carroll Picket sought psychological help only twice. Both times were a result of Carlos DeLuna's trip to the Death House.82 "I'll never forget Carlos DeLuna," Pickett told the private investigators in 2004.83

Carlos arrived at the Death House early on the morning of December 6.84 As he did with all the condemned prisoners, one of the first things Pickett did when he met Carlos was to mentally sort him by type. Some prisoners were "inmates," the pastor said. They had "adjust[ed] to the fact that they [were] in prison, for right or wrong, for innocent or for evil," and were "honest and . . . supportive" most of the time, not "troublemakers."85 A "convict," on the other hand, was "a troublemaker," who had "committed multiple felony crimes," resisted the rules, and didn't "care how he act[ed]" or how often he was punished.86

"We had people who were sent in to be executed who were convicts, and we had some who were inmates," Pickett said. Right away, he could see right that Carlos was an inmate.87 Carlos was cooperative throughout the day, Pickett recalled.88 He "came in [that morning] quiet, very, very scared. Because he was so young. He was basically a child."89 All day long, Pickett commented, "I was with a boy. He was a man by age but he was a boy."90 He was "simple. He began to hang on me . . . he didn't want me to leave. He wouldn't let me leave."91

The only thing Pickett knew about the twenty-seven-year old was what he'd read in an article Kathy Fair published in the Houston Chronicle on November 30 under the headline Each Tick of Clock Increases Terror of Condemned.92 DeLuna, he'd read, was accused of stabbing Wanda Jean Lopez in a convenience store robbery while she was on the phone with 911 begging for help. "Shortly afterward, police found him hiding beneath a truck parked only a few blocks away."93 Yet DeLuna claimed he was innocent and that another man had committed the crime.94

Pickett told the investigators that before he'd even met DeLuna, "I had questions . . . about Carlos's guilt or innocence." His instincts about criminals, honed by years of listening to them confess what they'd done and why, told him that a detail in Fair's story didn't make sense. "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," Pickett explained.95

Pickett spoke to Carlos about the Chronicle article96 several times during the day. It was his way of introducing the question of what happened at the time of the killing, in case Carlos had anything he wanted to get off of his chest.97 Bringing condemned inmates to a point where they trusted the pastor well enough to confess their sins after only a day together was a big part of Pickett's peculiar ministry. But it would be a while before DeLuna would be ready for that.98

In the morning, to gain the inmate's trust, Pickett talked about other things, beginning with the family members who were expected at the prison that day and how much time the inmate wanted to spend with each.99 Early on in this discussion, Carlos revealed that he'd never met his father and never felt good about his stepfather.100 Pickett knew he was making progress when at some point during the morning, Carlos "wanted to know if he could call me 'daddy,' if it would hurt my feelings. Because he had never had anybody stick by him who was in a fatherly position."101

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:49:22–21:50:40:

Then he told me about his—he never met his daddy. And I'm using the term "daddy" because that's what he used. He never met his daddy. . . . He was one of many children. During the day, before 12 o'clock—he didn't eat lunch—but before the day he wanted to know if he could call me "daddy," if it would hurt my feelings. Because he had never had anybody stick by him who was in a fatherly position. He didn't know his real father, he was abused by his step-father. I always made it my place to do what I could to make them comfortable. And I felt like if he called me "daddy," that would be fine. It sort of shook me up real bad. I've got four children and three step-children and fourteen grandchildren, and I know what "daddy" means. "Daddy" is a little bit beyond just "father." But he was willing to discuss anything after he got permission to call me "daddy."

See also Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:13:52–22:15:40 ("All day long I was with a boy. He was a man by age but he was a boy. And he relied so much on me, and I don't mean that egotistically. But he asked me all types of questions. Every time the door would open, 'What is that? What's going on?' Why the phone would ring, and all these type of things. And I would be honest with him. I told him I would do that. And I said, 'I'm going to do anything you want, anything you want. But I will be truthful to you.'").

See supra note 100; 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 178 ("In the fifteen years I served as the Death House chaplain, I sought psychological help only twice. Both occasions came in the wake of Carlos DeLuna's death."); see James S. Liebman, Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, (July 11, 2004) at 1, 3 ("As tough as I had to be, the DeLuna case sent me to counseling."; "This one tore me to pieces. [Had to go] . . . to Dallas for therapy.");

Susan Montez's Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain (July 17, 2004) at 2 ("[Pickett] was profoundly affected by Carlos's execution [and] had to have counseling after Carlos was executed.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:47:35–21:49:22 ("I'll never forget Carlos. Carlos . . . it was a long day. Even though he had a tremendous amount of visitors. And they were good people. A lot of inmates who died have good people.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:45:38 ("In those days we were executing at midnight. They'd bring them in early in the morning.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:57:00–22:00:54:

There are those who are inmates, who are sent there, who either adjust to the system or adjust to the fact that they are in prison, for right or for wrong, for innocent or for evil, whatever. And they will go along with the rules, and they will be honest and they will be supportive and they will not be troublemakers. A convict, by our definition, is one who is a troublemaker, who doesn't like the rules, who has committed multiple felony crimes, who doesn't care how he acts on the unit, who doesn't care how many times he goes to lock-up . . . . We had people who were sent in to be executed who were convicts and we had some who were inmates. . . . And Carlos came in quiet, very, very scared. Because he was so young. He was basically a child. That's why I didn't mind him calling me "daddy," because he was just a child. He had a baby face. He had baby features, to me. And when I talked to him, and in the time I spent with him, I could tell by the way he treated his family, he was crying out for somebody to say, "I love you and I care, and I want you to listen to me."

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:58:38–22:00:27 ("But a convict is a person that you have a lot of trouble with. We had people who were sent in to be executed who were convicts and we had some who were inmates. And it was easy to determine within the first couple of hours after they got there whether they were going to be inmates or convicts.").

Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:57:00–22:00:54.

Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:57:00–22:00:54;

James S. Liebman's Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, (July 11, 2004) at 3 ("CDL [Carlos DeLuna] was an inmate (anyone who was there for any reason but behaved themselves); but he was not a convict (does everything to break rules, get into fights, blackmail anyone . . . ). 'People who are innocent are all inmates.'").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:47:35–21:49:22:

I'll never forget Carlos. Carlos . . . it was a long day. Even though he had a tremendous amount of visitors. And they were good people. A lot of inmates who died have good people. They might have done something wrong, they might have been accused of something wrong, but their families were innocent. So one of my responsibilities was to get the families in. But before Carlos ever let his family in, he told me—I was there when he came in . . . . We had lots of time to talk. And I asked Carlos, since I was responsible for bringing in his visitors, who he wanted to see and how long he wanted to see them. And I explained to him the visitation times. And he was very, very cooperative. But he was very, very—I don't want to use the word immature or childish, but he was very simple. He began to hang on to me. And I mean that not critically, but he didn't want me to leave. He wouldn't let me leave. And there were certain responsibilities I had to do. Every execution day was set aside just for that, it didn't have anything to do with my work in the unit. But there were reports to give to the warden, reports to give to the executioners, and there was a time when I would go visit with the family.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:57:00–22:00:54;

see 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).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:13:52–22:17:05:

All day long I was with a boy. He was a man by age but he was a boy. And he relied so much on me, and I don't mean that egotistically. But he asked me all types of questions. Every time the door would open, "What is that? What's going on?" Why the phone would ring, and all these type of things. And I would be honest with him. I told him I would do that. And I said, "I'm going to do anything you want, anything you want. But I will be truthful to you."

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:47:35–21:49:22:

I'll never forget Carlos. Carlos . . . it was a long day. Even though he had a tremendous amount of visitors. And they were good people. A lot of inmates who died have good people. They might have done something wrong, they might have been accused of something wrong, but their families were innocent. So one of my responsibilities was to get the families in. But before Carlos ever let his family in, he told me—I was there when he came in . . . . We had lots of time to talk. And I asked Carlos, since I was responsible for bringing in his visitors, who he wanted to see and how long he wanted to see them. And I explained to him the visitation times. And he was very, very cooperative. But he was very, very—I don't want to use the word immature or childish, but he was very simple. He began to hang on to me. And I mean that not critically, but he didn't want me to leave. He wouldn't let me leave. And there were certain responsibilities I had to do. Every execution day was set aside just for that, it didn't have anything to do with my work in the unit. But there were reports to give to the warden, reports to give to the executioners, and there was a time when I would go visit with the family.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:02:26–22:03:50 ("The only thing I knew about Carlos was an article that Kathy [Fair] had written in the Houston Chronicle. I think it was probably November the 30th, or about a week before he came in. He came in on December the 6th. I remember that because it was the anniversary of the first execution.");

see Kathy Fair, Each Tick of Clock Increases Terror of Condemned Killer, Houst. Chron., Nov. 30, 1989, at 34A (discussed supra Chapter 15, notes 287–288 and accompanying text).

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

Kathy Fair, Each Tick of Clock Increases Terror of Condemned Killer, Houst. Chron., Nov. 30, 1989, at 34A ("DeLuna testified at his trial that he ran from the service station after seeing another of his friends struggling with the victim . . . .").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:45:38, 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.")

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:03:50–22:05:50 ("I had those two things on my mind [when he talked to Carlos DeLuna] and I had that article [by Kathy Fair in the Houston Chronicle]. I had that article in my file. He brought that article up three times during the day. We discussed that article.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:03:50–22:07:39:

It was our program, our philosophy, that I will ask questions and guide him [the inmate] and talk to him. Whatever he wanted to confess to or talk about, that was fine. We'll talk about anything in the world. But I had those two things on my mind [when he talked to Carlos DeLuna] and I had that article [by Kathy Fair in the Houston Chronicle]. I had that article in my file. He brought that article up three times during the day. We discussed that article. The most vivid and most remembering part about executions begins after ten o'clock at night. Because at ten o'clock at night, I would move the guards out of the way, and I would explain to them [the condemned inmates] exactly, in detail, what was going to take place. From what was going to happen, what telephone they would hear. You hear two telephone rings. And it's a traumatic process. I would explain to them how many straps would be put down. How, at 12 o'clock, I would wait till I got a call from the governor or a call from the attorney general. I would say, "It's time. Now, I want you to follow me in there. And don't fight. Because I'll have some guys with me. You'll be two feet behind me and just follow me." So I explained all this to Carlos. He told me, he said, "I'm not"— And I asked him, did he want to tell [me] the truth. He said, "Sure." I did them all that way. . . . "Go ahead, I want to know the whole story." . . . 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 22:03:50–22:07:39.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:47:35–21:49:22 ("So one of my responsibilities was to get the families in. . . . Every execution day was set aside just for that, it didn't have anything to do with my work in the unit. But there were reports to give to the warden, reports to give to the executioners, and there was a time when I would go visit with the family.");

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

His [Carlos DeLuna's] 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. . . . I got permission for him to call. . . . 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.

Chapter 16
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