HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 3
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Chapter 3

Show-up

On a late November evening, twenty-one years after Wanda Lopez collapsed in his arms, Kevan Baker was in the living room of his rural southern Michigan home. A middle-aged African-American man in an overcoat and tie appeared at the front door, introducing himself as a private investigator from Chicago.

Baker wasn't surprised. "This is about that case in Corpus Christi, isn't it," he said.1

The former car salesman had been expecting this visit for years, maybe even hoping for it. He'd left Corpus soon after testifying, under oath, that Carlos DeLuna was the man he'd seen taking the life of Wanda Lopez.2 DeLuna had been on trial for his life. Baker had a lot to get off his chest. Even after forty-five minutes of talking, he made the investigator keep his tape recorder running so he could come back one more time to the question that most weighed on his mind.3

Had he done the right thing that night at the gas station?

"It's just," he said, "I wish this never happened, you know what I'm saying."4 His voice trailed off. Then, seeing himself at the Sigmor that night, he continued. "I don't want to be there. . . . I'm going, 'God, this sucks, it really does.' But I tried to do the right thing. I walked towards the store, and I tried to help her out. That's basically what it was about."5

And that, Baker told the investigator, was how it went for him at every step of that chilly Gulf Coast night. It was Friday and he was ready to party, but it didn't happen.6 At every turn, he thought, "Oh fuck, I don't want to be here. Get in [the] car and leave."7 But instead, he ended up staying and doing what he decided was the right thing, ignoring what his instincts were telling him.8

When he heard the Sigmor clerk bang on the window, he was late to pick up his wife and head out to the clubs and was rushing to pump gas.9 He ignored the thump on the window and tried to pump the gas anyway, but the nozzle was dry and he had to look at the store clerk.10 That's when he saw her wrestling with a man.11

They must be horsing around, he remembered thinking. Lovers' play. None of his business.12 But when he looked again, he realized she was in trouble. He wanted to leave, but he knew the right thing was to go to the door.13

That's what he did, and he got his life threatened in return.14 Then, Wanda was in his arms, bleeding to death.15

When the cops came, they wanted to know what the guy looked like, but he and the other witnesses standing together near the ice machine couldn't agree.16 Baker gave his description and then stayed out of it. It mattered more to the others to have it their way.17

Then, Baker recalled, the cops put him through what they called a "show-up identification."18 Instead of lining up different people at the police station and asking if he could pick someone out through a one-way mirror, they wanted him and the other witnesses to go face-to-face with the guy at the scene of the crime and see if someone could identify him right there.19

At first, Baker refused, along with the other witnesses;20 everyone was terrified.21 But the police lieutenant pleaded with them—it was important for witnesses to come forward—so Baker agreed to do what the lieutenant asked.22

Transcribed Audiotape Interview with Kevan Baker, Eyewitness to Attack on Wanda Lopez, in Jackson, Mich. (Nov. 22, 2004) (in introductory note).

See supra Chapter 2, note 10, 13–17 and accompanying text.

See supra Chapter 2, note 17–19, 22–25 and accompanying text.

See supra Chapter 2, note 20–21 and accompanying text.

See supra Chapter 2, note 21–29 and accompanying text.

See supra Chapter 2, note 29–38 and accompanying text.

See supra Chapter 2, note 55–69 and accompanying text.

See supra Chapter 2, notes 42–48, 79–81, 96–99, 142–154 and accompanying text; see also Kevan Baker, Eyewitness to Attack on Wanda Lopez, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 274, 284−85:

Q. Now, when they—after the police arrived and everything and they talked to you, did they put all—I believe you said all the witnesses, your statement, that they talked to you all, they got you over there in a group; is that correct?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. By the side of the station and y’all were discussing more or less to the officer what you saw, what he saw and the officer was trying to put it together?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Okay. Were you all together when y’all were discussing this with the officer?

A. I suppose we were kind of in the same general area, yes.

See supra Chapter 2, notes 73–74, 134–135, 153–154 and accompanying text.

See supra Chapter 2, note 153–154, 167–172 and accompanying text.

See Kevan Baker, Eyewitness to Attack on Wanda Lopez, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 277−78:

Q. Tell the Jury how it was you came to see him the second time.

A. We were standing over on the east side of the building, the few people that did see what went on, and a police officer came up and asked us if we would like to make—if we would like to look at this gentleman they had in the back of the car and see if we could—you know, if we recognized him from before or not and I myself said I would go over and look and we proceeded over to the car . . . .

Kevan Baker, Eyewitness to Attack on Wanda Lopez, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 277−78.

Transcribed Audiotape Interview with Kevan Baker, Eyewitness to Attack on Wanda Lopez, in Jackson, Mich. (Nov. 22, 2004) at 30:00–30:58 (“Of course, it’s been twenty years, but basically it’s still vivid.”).

Baker left Corpus Christi around 1985. Transcribed Audiotape Interview with Kevan Baker, Eyewitness to Attack on Wanda Lopez, in Jackson, Mich. (Nov. 22, 2004) at 37:01–38:33.

See infra notes 74–80.

See infra notes 74–80.

See infra notes 81–85.

Transcribed Audiotape Interview with Kevan Baker, Eyewitness to Attack on Wanda Lopez, in Jackson, Mich. (Nov. 22, 2004) at 0:02–1:05, 4:00–5:07, 28:00–29:08, 40:00–41:05, 45:37–end.

Transcribed Audiotape Interview with Kevan Baker, Eyewitness to Attack on Wanda Lopez, in Jackson, Mich. (Nov. 22, 2004) at 45:36–end.

Transcribed Audiotape Interview with Kevan Baker, Eyewitness to Attack on Wanda Lopez, in Jackson, Mich. (Nov. 22, 2004) at 45:36–end:

Q. Ok. Well, I thank you. . . . [I]f I needed to get back in touch with you, is that ok with you?

A. No problem, I have no problem with that. It’s just, I wish this never happened, you know what I’m saying. It’s just something that I don’t want to be there. And you know, if you’ve ever been a police officer to get to your point as a detective.

Q. I’ve worked for the state, done prosecuting attorney investigations, yes.

A. So it’s just like, you don’t want to be here either.

Q. Right [laughs]. Right.

A. Stuff you wish your kids don’t have to see, either.

Q. Sure.

A. At thirty-three or so, I’d been in the oat fields a long time, then traveled in the Navy and been around enough. And I’m going, “God, this sucks, it really does.” But I tried to do the right thing. I walked towards the store, and I tried to help her out. That’s basically what it was about.

Q. Ok. All right, well, thanks a lot. As I said, if I have any more questions, I’ll certainly give you a call. I’ll turn this off now.

Transcribed Audiotape Interview with Kevan Baker, Eyewitness to Attack on Wanda Lopez, in Jackson, Mich. (Nov. 22, 2004) at 23:00–24:59 (“Back in ‘83 I was thirty-three. So I wanted to go party you know. But that didn’t happen.”).

Transcribed Audiotape Interview with Kevan Baker, Eyewitness to Attack on Wanda Lopez, in Jackson, Mich. (Nov. 22, 2004) at 28:00–29:08 (“‘Oh fuck I don’t want to be here. Get in my car and leave.’ But I couldn’t. It’s not in me.”).

Transcribed Audiotape Interview with Kevan Baker, Eyewitness to Attack on Wanda Lopez, in Jackson, Mich. (Nov. 22, 2004) at 40:00–41:45 (“Like I said, my first thought is, ‘I don’t wanna be here.’ But I felt as an American, I should do the right thing.”).

For other instances when Baker repeats the phrase “I didn’t want to be there,” see Transcribed Audiotape Interview with Kevan Baker, Eyewitness to Attack on Wanda Lopez, in Jackson, Mich. (Nov. 22, 2004) at 28:00–29:08, 45:37–end.

See supra Chapter 2, notes 10–17 and accompanying text.

Chapter 3
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