HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 16
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With all his visits, Carlos had no time for lunch that day,149 but just after 6:00 p.m., after seeing Rose for the last time, he had his dinner—the fabled last meal.150

Pickett was critical of records kept by the Texas Department of Corrections listing what each inmate ate for his last meal and said for his last words.151 It wasn't the use of antiseptic routines to paper over the deliberate killing of people that bothered Pickett. Rather, it was the prison system's failure to get the details right. Pickett understood from experience, however, why mistakes always happened. No matter how good your routines are, he explained, when it is the deliberate killing of someone that you're part of, you're going to be "in shock," "your emotions are going to be involved," and "you're not going to hear or report exactly what [happened]."152

Carlos DeLuna's last meal was a case in point, Pickett explained. At first, Carlos had said he didn't want any dinner. That was typical. Despite all the hoopla about the steak and lobster condemned killers devour on the last night of their existence, most of them don't want anything or just pick at their food.153 In Pickett's experience it was only the "mentally challenged" who displayed much of an appetite.154 In any event the Texas prison didn't serve steak and lobster, the chaplain pointed out. What the corrections department records said about that just "wasn't true."155

"About six o'clock," Pickett recalled, he asked Carlos if he was sure he didn't want anything.156 Carlos asked if Pickett could still get him something. "Just tell me what you want," the warden said.157 Carlos's answer was "Strawberries and ice cream and a shake."158

"Now the book," Pickett said during his interview with the investigators in 2004, reaching over for the volume—"the classic book" by the Department of Corrections "about what happens on Texas death row, what they eat and the last meal"—says DeLuna "ate nothing. I sat right there by him, and he ate strawberries and ice cream and drank the shake, and we talked."159

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Around 8:00 p.m., the guards let Carlos use the telephone to call relatives.160 His conversation with his oldest half-sister, Toni Peña, was short and unadorned, and years later Toni spoke about it to an investigator in that same way. The investigator's notes record the moment:

Toni told me about the phone call from Carlos the night of his execution . . . . Carlos told Toni he loved her. At this point [in the interview], tears welled up in her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. It was a very painful and sad moment.161

Carlos also called his brother Manuel at a prison farm in south Texas.162 It was while Manuel was there that another inmate, Miguel Ortiz, had called him out to the rec yard and recounted Carlos Hernandez's chilling confession to three killings, including one at a gas station for which "Carlos DeLuna" had taken Hernandez's "rap."163

"[D]on't blame God, if I am killed and I am innocent," Carlos told Manuel, having heard their sister Rose blaming God earlier in the day.164 Manuel wanted to hear it straight and clear from his brother, however, so at the end of the conversation he asked Carlos directly: "Did you kill the lady at the gas station?"165 Carlos said he didn't. Carlos Hernandez was the killer.166 Manuel believed his brother. He said he could always tell when his little brother was lying, and Carlos wasn't lying.167

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Reverend Pickett had the same question for Carlos as Manuel, but the prison chaplain had a lot more experience helping his charges get things off their chest.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:49:22–21:50:40 ("During the day, before 12 o'clock—he didn't eat lunch . . . .").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:15:40–22:16:44 ("I told him I would do whatever you want. About six o'clock I said, 'Are you sure you don't want anything?' He said, 'Can you get me something?' I said, 'Just tell me what you want.' He said, 'Strawberries and ice cream and a shake.' So I called the [inaudible] department and they brought him strawberries and ice cream and a shake.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:16:44–22:19:01:

Now the book, (reaches over to table, picks up book, camera zooms out to watch) the classic book [published by the Texas Department of Corrections] that was put out about what happens on Texas Death Row, what they eat and the last meal, says he ate nothing. I sat right there by him, and he ate strawberries and ice cream and drank the shake, and we talked . . . . Even Carlos's final words are not accurate in that book. 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 in this book, and the ones that were on TV. And I'm not knocking reporters. The media just doesn't—They're down there in shock. Ted Koppel is considered one of the greatest people in the world in the media. And he watched an execution. He 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. And I was interviewed by Ted Koppel. And I told him, "If you witness this, you're not going to hear or report exactly what he says." He said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Because your emotions are going to be involved." And he went on his TV program and quoted what he [Mario Marquez] said, and it was totally wrong. I met with him the next day and I told him. I said, "this is what Mario said." The same way with Carlos [DeLuna's last words].

Susan Montez's Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain (July 17, 2004) at 3 ("Reverend Pickett pointed to a book on his desk, Texas Death Row, which is a catalog of persons executed in Texas. The book was open at the page showing Carlos DeLuna. Most of the information in the book about last meals was not true, Reverend Pickett stated. Most prisoners do not want a last meal, and those that do get whatever the kitchen is serving for dinner that night. If a prisoner were to ask for lobster or a t-bone steak, they would not get it. Reverend Pickett was very glad that peaches and vanilla ice cream were on hand that night for Carlos.").

See supra note 151.

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 176 ("Despite the popular myth, most condemned men who order an elaborate last meal only pick at it.").

Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002) at 176 ("The mentally challenged always display a voracious appetite.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:13:52–22:17:05 ("A. Now the book [published by the Texas Department of Corrections], (reaches over to table, picks up book, camera zooms out to watch) the classic book that was put out about what happens on Texas Death Row, what they eat and the last meal, says he ate nothing. I sat right there by him, and he ate strawberries and ice cream and drank the shake, and we talked. Q. Where that book says people had steak and lobster? A. That's not true.");

Susan Montez's Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain (July 17, 2004) at 3 ("Most of the information in the book about last meals was not true, Reverend Pickett stated. Most prisoners do not want a last meal, and those that do get whatever the kitchen is serving for dinner that night. If a prisoner were to ask for lobster or a t-bone steak, they would not get it.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:15:40–22:16:44 ("I told him I would do whatever you want. About six o'clock I said, 'Are you sure you don't want anything?' He said, 'Can you get me something?' I said, 'Just tell me what you want.' He said, 'Strawberries and ice cream and a shake.' So I called the [inaudible] department and they brought him strawberries and ice cream and a shake.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:15:40–22:16:44.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:15:40–22:16:44.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:13:52–22:17:05 ("I sat there right by him, and he ate strawberries and ice cream and drank the shake, and we talked.").

See James S. Liebman's Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain (July 11, 2004) at 1 ("[Carlos's family] [d]idn't see execution; time 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 Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:27:34–22:28:55 ("So he made that call to his family, and called to the one sister who couldn't come . . . .");

Susan Montez's Notes on Interview with Toni Peña, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 20, 2004) at 4 ("Toni told me about the phone call from Carlos the night of his execution. . . . Carlos told Toni he loved her. At this point, tears welled up in her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. It was a very painful and sad moment.");

James S. Liebman's Notes on Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain (July 11, 2004) at 1 ("[Carlos's family] [d]idn't see execution; time of visit with CDL [Carlos DeLuna] is indicated: . . . . Toni Pena—[Carlos DeLuna] wanted to make a call to her. He did call her 9:04–9:26 p.m.").

James S. Liebman's Notes on Bruce Whitman's Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 11, 2004) at 1 ("Night of Execution: MDL [Manuel DeLuna] has 1 hour conversation with CDL [Carlos DeLuna]; discussed a lot of things; CDL told him 'don't blame God, if I am killed and I am innocent.' Manuel says to CDL 'Tell me the truth.' (MDL says to us: 'I can tell when my brother is lying.') 'Did you kill the lady at the gas station?' CDL said 'I did not. You [referring to Manuel] know him. You know the man that did kill her.'");

Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 11, 2004) at 1;

see Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:42:06–22:43:10 ("Visitors had to stop at five o'clock. We could still make telephone calls, if they were ok. If they were good inmates, not convicts. If they'd been bad all day long, I wouldn't make a phone call for them. I just wouldn't even offer it. And if I didn't offer it, they didn't know they had the right if they wanted to make a phone call.").

Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 11, 2004) at 1–2:

Mdl [Manuel DeLuna] was doing time in prison at the "Old Clemens Unit" doc [Department of Corrections], tx [Texas]: "Between 1987 to 1989 or 90 I ran into a young kid from cc [Corpus Christ], tx his name was Carlos [sic—Manuel] Ortiz. I was walking down the hallway at the Old Clemens Unit and ran into him in the classification he was just coming in from the chain and he asked me if my name was mdl? I said yes and he asked to meet me at the rec. yard. I met Carlos Ortiz in the rec. yard and he started talking to me about Carlos Hernandez. He said he met ch [Carlos Hernandez] at a park in cc next to Rojo and Painter street. . . . Ortiz said that night at the park he and some other guys were drinking beer and ch started bragging about all his killings and he mentioned the killing that Carlos De Luna was doing time in the pen for a capital murder and the he took his (ch's) wrap. I asked [Ortiz] why he didn't tell someone about this and he said, your brother was all ready accused, what could I do? We ended up becoming friends I really don't know what happen to the guy. We talked more at other times about my brothers case and [Ortiz] said that when ch was bragging in the park that he actually did kill this Wanda Lopez and that my brother took the [rap] for this . . . . Ortiz did go on to say that ch bragged about several killings under his belt, not one but several he didn't name them or where but he did tell me that ch was a very bad, and I mean bad, person and he actually liked to hurt women and kill them."

See supra Chapter 8, notes 98–107 and accompanying text.

James S. Liebman's Notes on Bruce Whitman's Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 11, 2004) at 1 ("Night of Execution: MDL [Manuel DeLuna] has 1 hour conversation with CDL [Carlos DeLuna]; discussed a lot of things; CDL told him 'don't blame God, if I am killed and I am innocent.' Manuel says to CDL 'Tell me the truth.' (MDL says to us: 'I can tell when my brother is lying.') 'Did you kill the lady at the gas station?' CDL said 'I did not. You [referring to Manuel] know him. You know the man that did kill her.'").

James S. Liebman's Notes on Bruce Whitman's Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 11, 2004) at 1;

see Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 11, 2004) at 1 ("[T]he brothers talked about life, death, family the conversation was almost over and mld [Manuel DeLuna] asked cld [Carlos DeLuna], 'if he did the crime? I just wanted to know if he did kill that girl?").

See Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 11, 2004) at 1 ("His response to me was, no I didn't. He said it was Carlos Hernandez . . . .").

See James S. Liebman's Notes on Bruce Whitman's Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 11, 2004) at 1 ("(MDL [Manuel DeLuna] says to us: 'I can always tell when my brother is lying.')").

Chapter 16
Page: 9 of 16