HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 5
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When Rose was about four years old, Margarita met Blas Avalos, and the two were soon married.28 Rose rated Blas “okay” as a stepfather. Every once in a while, he’d spank one of them, but only when Margarita made him. It wasn’t in his nature to hit them, Rose believed. Mostly, Blas stayed on the sidelines.29

Blas’s big problem was his drinking. Rose called him a “weekend alcoholic.”30 Starting Friday night, after he came home from his job laying asphalt, and through Sunday night, Blas would drink at home or at an older neighbor’s house nearby. “The two of them would just sit and drink until they passed out,” Rose recalled.31

* * * * *

Rose understood why her mother let the tenth child go. Her mom was already too exhausted to raise her second set of kids.32 As Carlos DeLuna himself wrote to a news reporter in 1989, briefly describing his childhood, “My mother she was 40-years-old when she had me. And she was old, and I guess she was tired of raising kids.”33

The job of rearing Manuel, Carlos, and Rose fell to their three older half-sisters.34 Each older girl took responsibility for one of the DeLuna kids—dressing them, feeding them, and buying them clothes. Vicky Conejo chose Manuel, Mary chose Carlos, and Becky took Rose.35

When the older girls were dating, they couldn’t leave the younger kids home and had to bring them along. Mary laughed when she described the arrangement years later. It wasn’t so bad, she said. She liked taking Carlos. He was a “good boy”; he behaved.36

Margarita also made the older girls get jobs during junior high and high school. At “paycheck time,” Vicky recalled, “we would buy [the younger kids] . . . clothes. That’s the way we were raised. . . . [E]very paycheck, we had to go buy something for our brother . . . like he was our responsibility.” The rest of the paycheck went to Margarita to help with the rent.37

Margarita wanted the older girls to stay home from school to look after the younger kids, as well as holding down paying jobs.38 The principal and teachers tried to get after Margarita about this, but she ignored them.39 Mary recalled being summoned to the principal’s office and asked why she was absent all the time. She explained that her mother needed money and had to work outside the house. Someone had to stay with the littlest children.40 The school gave Mary a job in the school cafeteria, but her sister Vicky quit school to be at home with the DeLuna kids.41

* * * * *

For eight of the nine children she raised, Margarita viewed her role as parent in a narrow and practical way: get them to a point where they could take care of themselves and send them on their way. She loved them, Vicky said, but once they could support themselves, her job was done.42 Rose remembers a home without love, hugs, or “good mornings.” Her mother just wanted the kids grown and out of the house. It didn’t bother her that Vincent, the oldest, left as a teenager and never came back.43 Margarita was just happy that he could get along on his own.44

Becky, the youngest of the Conejo kids, got pregnant when she was fourteen, a year older than her mother had been when Vincent was born.45 Margarita had no sympathy. Her attitude was, “Hey, I didn’t tell you to get pregnant,” so Becky left home.46

Manuel, the oldest of the three DeLuna children, quit school during junior high and left home after that.47 He followed his half-sister and surrogate mom Vicky48 to Garland, Texas, near Dallas, where she and some of the other half-siblings had moved with their young families to work in a Kraft Foods plant.49 Manuel was back and forth between Garland and Corpus Christi, and in and out of trouble with the law—starting with a car theft as a teenager that ended when he backed the vehicle into a police cruiser at the Casino Club and tried to flee the scene.50

Pre-Disposition Investigation for Carlos DeLuna, Al R. Reyna, Intake Coordinator, Probation Dep’t (June 27, 1978) at 3 (“In 1969, [Margarita] married Mr. Avalos”);

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 19, 2004) at 4 (“Blas and Margarita probably met in a bar. Margarita drank at that time, but by the time Rose was a teenager, she had stopped drinking. Rose never saw Margarita drunk.”);

see also Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Toni Peña, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 25, 2004) at 3 (“Toni did not remember exactly when Margarita married Blas Avalos. He was three years younger than Margarita, and worked in construction. He was an alcoholic.”).

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 19, 2004) at 4 (“Rose does not remember exactly when Margarita and Blas married. He was a ‘weekend alcoholic’ and an ‘okay’ stepfather. He just wanted the kids to go to school and listen to their parents. He was on the sidelines. He only spanked them because Margarita told him to. It was not his own nature.”);

see also Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 03:24:20–03:25:12 (reading from a letter written to her by Carlos DeLuna written in early December 1989):

[I] will go ahead and tell you a little bit about my childhood. Maybe you will be able to understand me a little more. I grew up in a big family. There were nine of us. My real father left when I was only an infant, about five or six months old, and my mother brought us up. I think I was about five or six years old when she married my stepfather. He was a good man but he was an alcoholic. He drank a whole lot. But he always did support us, and he was a good person. But he never really cared, I guess, a whole lot about us. My mother, she was 40 years old when she had me. And she was old, and I guess she was tired of raising kids. But she did try her best. I can’t take anything from her.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:42:15–20:43:31 (“[M]y step-dad was an alcoholic. As soon as he got paid on Friday—he always went to work, that’s one thing I can say about him. He went to work Monday through Friday. Friday evening, that’s it, he drank ‘till Sunday evening. That’s all he did, was drink Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, all day long, from the time he would wake up to the time he would pass out.”);

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 19, 2004) at 4 (“[Blas] was a “weekend alcoholic” . . . . He would drink on the weekends until he passed out. He would either drink at home, or at a friend’s house—an older man who lived nearby. The two of them would just sit and drink until they passed out. Blas had a daughter from a previous relationship, whom he adored. Rose remembered going to visit that girl a few times, but did not remember her name.”);

see also Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Toni Peña, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 25, 2004) at 3 (“Toni did not remember exactly when Margarita married Blas Avalos. He was three years younger than Margarita, and worked in construction. He was an alcoholic.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:42:15–20:43:31 (“[M]y step-dad was an alcoholic. As soon as he got paid on Friday—he always went to work, that’s one thing I can say about him. He went to work Monday through Friday. Friday evening, that’s it, he drank ‘till Sunday evening. That’s all he did, was drink Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, all day long, from the time he would wake up to the time he would pass out.”);

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 19, 2004) at 4 (“Blas and Margarita probably met in a bar. . . . He was on the sidelines. He only spanked them because Margarita told him to. It was not his own nature. He would drink on the weekends until he passed out. He would either drink at home, or at a friend’s house—an older man who lived nearby. The two of them would just sit and drink until they passed out.”);

see also Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Toni Peña, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 25, 2004) at 4 (“I asked about Blas Avalos, Toni and Carlos’s stepfather. Toni did not know where he was living now. He is in very bad shape. He has organic brain syndrome from alcoholism. Toni said Blas was a good provider, but he drank too much. The last time she saw him, he could not remember what he had just eaten, or that he had just eaten. His mind is gone.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 19:54:26–19:56:31 (“[M]y mom was tired after having all those kids”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 03:24:20–03:25:12 (reading from a letter written to her by Carlos DeLuna written in early December 1989):

I will go ahead and tell you a little bit about my childhood. Maybe you will be able to understand me a little more. I grew up in a big family. There were nine of us. My real father left when I was only an infant, about five or six months old, and my mother brought us up. I think I was about five or six years old when she married my stepfather. He was a good man but he was an alcoholic. He drank a whole lot. But he always did support us, and he was a good person. But he never really cared, I guess, a whole lot about us. My mother, she was 40 years old when she had me. And she was old, and I guess she was tired of raising kids. But she did try her best. I can’t take anything from her.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Vicky Gutierrez, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 00:05:54–00:06:30 (“[W]hen [the DeLuna kids] were little, we used to take care of them. We used to buy them clothes. . . . And we would dress them, buy them clothes, feed them . . . .”);

see also Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Toni Peña, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 25, 2004) at 2–3 (noting that Toni had gotten married and moved out around the time the oldest of the DeLuna children was born; “Toni said that [her younger sisters] Mary (Arredondo), Becky (Gutierrez) and Vicky Marquez could tell me more about Carlos growing up, because they took care of him.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Vicky Gutierrez, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 00:07:10–00:07:53, 00:08:35–00:08:58 (“Manuel was my favorite. I don’t know why, but Manuel was my favorite when I used to take care of him. . . . Mary would pick Carlos and I would pick Manuel.”; “Carlos was her [Mary’s] favorite, and Manuel was my favorite . . . I’m saying that because that’s who I [would] take care of. And Becky was [in charge of] Rosemary. It was just like that, I don’t know how. That’s the way it was. We took care of them like that.”);

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Mary Arredando, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 26, 2004), at 2 (“Mary said that she, Vicky and Becky took care of Manuel, Carlos and Rose when they were little.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Vicky Gutierrez, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 00:08:00–00:08:19 (“They were very nice kids. They would listen to us. We would take them to the movies, anywhere we wanted to go we would take them. They behaved. They were well-behaved.”);

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Mary Arredando, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 26, 2004) at 3 (“Mary remembered when she, Vicky and Becky were dating. They couldn’t leave the little kids alone, so each sister would pick one child and take them on her date. She laughed about this and said it wasn’t that bad. She often picked Carlos. Mary remembered Carlos as a good boy that was kind and gentle and loving.”);

see also Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Toni Peña, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 25, 2004) at 3 (Carlos’s half-sister “Toni remembered Carlos as very loveable.”);

James S. Liebman’s Notes on Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 17, 2004) at 1–2, 4 (“I know how Carlos got in this bad circle; it was because of Ida Sosa. . . . Ida Sota (Sosa) was to blame for his down fall.”; “Carlos DeLuna as kid: good kid, until met Ida Sosa. Then life changed.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Vicky Gutierrez, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 00:07:10–00:07:53, 00:05:54–00:06:30:

Every time they would pay us, paycheck time, we would buy them [the DeLuna children] something, some clothes. That’s the way we were raised, to help my mother. When we got paid, we would give the check to my mom and she would give us just so that we could spend something and go buy us something. But it was a habit we had that, every paycheck, we had to go buy something for our brother. It’s just like he was our responsibility, something like that. . . . When I was growing up? Well, when they [the DeLuna kids] were little, we used to take care of them. We used to buy them clothes. We worked to help my mother, because, like I told you, my mother was like a dad and a mom. So we would work. My mother even—I had to get out of school to help my mother with the kids. And we would take care of them. And I would have to work, me and Mary. And we would dress them, buy them clothes, feed them, help my mother.

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Mary Arredando, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 26, 2004) at 2 (“[Mary], Vicky and Becky took care of Manuel, Carlos and Rose when they were little. Sometimes they would have to stay home from school to do so.”).

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Mary Arredando, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 26, 2004) at 2 (“The school got after Margarita for this [keeping her kids out of school], but she just ignored them. One day, Mary was called into the office and asked why she had so many absences. She explained that her mother needed money and had to work outside the house. Someone had to take care of the littlest children. After that, the school gave Mary a job in the school cafeteria, and also found babysitting jobs for her, so that she could contribute to the family income.”).

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Mary Arredando, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 26, 2004) at 2 (“The school got after Margarita for this [keeping her kids out of school], but she just ignored them. One day, Mary was called into the office and asked why she had so many absences. She explained that her mother needed money and had to work outside the house. Someone had to take care of the littlest children. After that, the school gave Mary a job in the school cafeteria, and also found babysitting jobs for her, so that she could contribute to the family income.”).

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Mary Arredando, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 26, 2004) at 2 (“The school got after Margarita for this [keeping her kids out of school], but she just ignored them. One day, Mary was called into the office and asked why she had so many absences. She explained that her mother needed money and had to work outside the house. Someone had to take care of the littlest children. After that, the school gave Mary a job in the school cafeteria, and also found babysitting jobs for her, so that she could contribute to the family income.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Vicky Gutierrez, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005), at 00:02:00–00:03:49, 00:12:17–00:12:46 (“[My mother] used to take care of us because she was like a mother and dad to all of us. She would work and, you know, do whatever she did to be able to take care of us. We were a family of nine.”; “When she was with [Joe DeLuna], it was ok. But after he left her, it was kind of hard because she had to work more because we were now more, more kids that she had to take care of. It was kind of hard for her, it was kind of hard, you could say that, to be able to take care of us.”);

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 19:46:25–19:48:11:

Our life wasn’t easy as kids, my mom, like I said. She was—My mom had a total of ten kids. So it was really hard for our mom to raise us last three kids. So it was pretty much taking care of ourselves, and looking after ourselves. I’m not saying that my mom was a bad mom, but our step dad was an alcoholic. And it was really hard living in that lifestyle. And they weren’t, my parent’s weren’t parents that encouraged you to finish school. That wasn’t their lifestyle. They had a totally different lifestyle. Education wasn’t one of [their priorities].

See also Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Toni Peña, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 25, 2004) at 2:

In 1961, [Toni] dropped out of Ray High School in the eleventh grade and got married. Toni and Jose Peña got married in Holy Family Church. Toni was the only one of the family to get married in church, and Margarita was very happy about it, although it was her dream that all her children would do so. Toni said she later got a GED and went on to attend DelMar Junior College, where she got associate degrees in early childhood development and cosmetology. When she said ‘cosmetology,’ Toni covered her face and laughed. Belinda said that Toni had done all the hours of training necessary to get the cosmetology degree, and then never used it.

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 19, 2004) at 5 (“There was no loving, no hugs, no ‘good mornings.’ Margarita just wanted the kids married and out of the house. It did not seem to bother her that Vincent left and never came back. What mattered was that he was out of the house.”).

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 19, 2004) at 5;

see Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 19, 2004) at 1–2 (“All of the six were close to their mother except Vincent. He did not come to their mother’s funeral.”; “Rose has only seen Vincent, the oldest, two times in her life. Vincent left and never came back. He took care of himself. . . . Rose heard that he changed his name, got married and had a family.”);

see also Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Toni Peña, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 25, 2004) at 2–3 (“The oldest child of Margarita and Francisco Conejo was Vincent. He was a good student who won awards and . . . went into the army at 17 or 18 years old and went to Vietnam. He might have stayed in the army as a career. No one has seen or heard of him in . . . years.”).

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 19, 2004) at 3 (“Becky is the youngest of the six. She was the rebellious one, who would leave the house and stay out until late. She got pregnant at a young age, and Margarita kicked her out.”).

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Mary Arredando, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 26, 2004) at 2 (“Margarita’s attitude was, ‘Hey, I didn’t tell you to get pregnant.’ However, Mary said that Margarita didn’t kick Becky out . . . . Becky left on her own.”).

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 19, 2004) at 5 (“Manuel dropped out of Tom Brown [Junior High School] in the 8th or 9th grade”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Vicky Gutierrez, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 00:07:10–00:07:53 (“Manuel was my favorite. I don’t know why, but Manuel was my favorite when I used to take care of him.”).

On Manuel’s connection to Garland and nearby Dallas, see James S. Liebman’s Notes on Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 17, 2004) at 4:

My mother died because of this shit (CDL’s [Carlos DeLuna’s capital murder] arrest and conviction). I was in Dall[a]s working . . . . I had no[] funds. I was married to Yolanda and we had a kid or two. I told mom, that he’ll [Carlos DeLuna will] be out again very soon giving you hell. Don’t worry about it. I felt bad (not going back to CC [Corpus Christi] as mom asked), but I had responsibility and I was barely hanging on by my fingernails in Dallas, so I never went back to CC. Now is the first time in my life I can breathe. No worries about money, and some left over.

James S. Liebman’s Notes on Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 17, 2004) at 4 (“1980–81, he [Manuel DeLuna] goes to Dallas.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Vicky Gutierrez, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005), at 00:04:30–00:05:19:

I got married with my husband, Alberto Gutierrez. We moved to Garland because what he was making over there [in Corpus Christi] wasn’t enough money. So we moved to Garland, and he found a job here at Kraft Foods, which they were paying better. Then, after that, I told my sister, Mary Arredando, my husband could find her husband a job here. Which he did, so Mary came along and moved over here to Garland, and he found a job there at Kraft Foods, too. But, poor Mary, her husband had an accident and died in a car accident. Then, I guess we all talked to Becky, Danny, and everybody sort of followed me, so they all moved over here.

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Mary Arredando, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 26, 2004) at 3 (“After Hurricane Celia [August 3, 1970], Mary wanted out of Corpus Christi. The family moved to Garland, Texas, where her husband got a job at the Kraft Foods plant.”).

Judgment, Texas v. Manuel DeLuna, No. 80-CR–147-C (Nueces Cty., 94th Dist. Tex. May 20, 1980) (sentencing Manuel DeLuna to five years’ probation for the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle);

R. Yatu, Investigating Officer, City Vehicle Accidents (Jan. 13, 1980) (noting that Manuel DeLuna had backed a van into a city vehicle legally parked at Casino Club);

Judgment, Texas v. Manuel DeLuna, No. 95-CR–4273-G(81) (Nueces Cty., 319th Dist. Tex. Feb. 17, 1998) (sentencing Manuel DeLuna to three years imprisonment for burglary);

James S. Liebman’s Notes on Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 17, 2004) at 4 (describing Manuel’s criminal record: “1973–1974: arrested for unauthorized use of MV and gets three years probation; 1980–81, he goes to Dallas. For years, he never reported to probation. Got stopped in 1986 for expired inspection sticker . . . and gets arrested after they ran NCIC on him; warrant on him from back in 70s. Goes to jail; CC picks him up and sent me up for ‘10 years.’ . . . ‘I don’t want to talk about that.’”).

Chapter 5
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