HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 5
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“Could [Carlos] talk to you like we’re talking right now?” Rose asked. “Yes. If you look at him and talk to him, do you think there is something wrong with him? No.”73 And when it came to manual work, Carlos could watch you do something and pick it up, she said.74 But if you gave him a task where he had to make sense of something he read or heard, then “you would see he had an issue.” He “couldn’t do it.”75

* * * * *

That’s why Margarita paid more attention to Carlos than the others—“always getting him out of the situations that he got himself into. Because she knew he had an issue.”76 And “that’s what killed my mom,” Rose believed. That’s why she “gave up” and died, because she “let Carlos down.” She didn’t help him in his greatest hour of need.77

Rose explained. Shortly before Wanda Lopez was stabbed, Carlos had called home from a skating rink and bowling alley a mile from the Sigmor station to ask for a ride home.78 By then, the other children had moved out, and it was just Margarita and Blas. Carlos had moved in only a few weeks before, on parole from prison.79 Blas got Carlos a job at the paving company he worked for, but beyond that, he and Margarita weren’t used to taking care of a twenty-year-old.80 Only an hour before Carlos had called, they had dropped him off at the skating rink. Now he wanted to come back home.81

But it was Friday night, and even before taking Carlos to the rink, Blas had started drinking.82 When Carlos called for a ride home, his stepfather was too far gone to take the car out again. Margarita demurred as well. She couldn’t see well at night and didn’t want to drive by herself.83

As Blas testified at Carlos’s trial, Margarita told Carlos to find a ride home or use the pay he received earlier that day to get a cab home.84 Carlos had been counting on Margarita, not his barely communicative step-father,85 to be his star witness at trial: to explain to the jurors that her son, begging for a ride home, a week’s pay in his pocket, wasn’t bent on robbing anyone.86

But Margarita didn’t testify. She was in the hospital, and the judge refused to delay the trial until she was better.87 “I believe my mom gave up,” Rose told the investigators.88 “My mom was tired, and she gave up.”89

Her mother “didn’t know how to get [Carlos] out of it,” Rose continued. “If she could, she would.”90 Carlos had called her to come pick him up from the skating ring, and Margarita “blame[d] herself for that, for not going out there and trying to get him . . . . She believe[d] she let him down.”91

Even after he was arrested, Carlos couldn’t reach his mother to tell her. He called his oldest half-sister, Toni Peña, and told her that “he had been arrested, and they were not going to let him go.”92 Toni told the investigator that, “[h]e did not seem to understand what had happened to him.”93

If Margarita “would have just went for him,” Rose reflected. “If she would have just got in that car and went and picked him up,” [at the skating rink], “he would not have been in the situation that happened.”94

“That’s what killed my mom,” Rose said.95

* * * * *

For a long time, Rose admitted, she, too, blamed Margarita.96 And she blamed herself.

“I believe it was in February of ‘83 that they claimed that Carlos committed this crime,” Rose recounted for the investigators. “My mom passed away in August of ‘83.”97 Rose saw Margarita just before she died. She asked Rose one thing. “‘I want you to do something for me,’” Margarita told Rose. “‘Promise me that you’ll always look out for Carlos. Promise me that.’” 98

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:14:13–20:16:05 (“Could [Carlos] talk to you like we’re talking right now? Yes. If you look at him and talk to him, do you think there is something wrong with him? No. But if you actually give him something to read, then you would see he had an issue, a learning disability. He did have an issue on that.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:25:07–20:25:30 (“Q. I know it’s a very hard word to use, but do you think he was retarded? A. He was slow. He was slow. As far as manual work, and stuff like that, he would watch you do something, and pick it up. But if you would ask him, read this and do it, he couldn’t do it.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:14:13–20:16:05, 20:25:10–20:25:20 (“[I]f you actually give him something to read, then you would see he had an issue, a learning disability. He did have an issue on that.”; “[I]f you would ask him, read this and do it, he couldn’t do it.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:26:00–20:28:29 (“My mom raised eight kids, and when you have that many kids, nine kids total, and you see each kid, you know that there’s something wrong with one. So I believe that my mom, even though she never said it—maybe she didn’t know how to say it—she knew that Carlos had a disability issue.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:28:54–20:30:42:

So when Carlos was convicted for this murder, my mom was . . . . That was it. She knew, deep in her heart, that there wasn’t . . . . She didn’t know how to get him out of it. If she could, she would. . . . I believe she believes she let him down, knowing that he was that broken wing, and she gave up. She gave up when Carlos was convicted for this murder. That’s what killed my mom. I believe that. She was tired. She was tired. She just did not know what else to do.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:28:54–20:30:42, 20:43:57–20:45:42 (“She was the witness that Carlos did call her to come pick him up from the skating rink.”; Margarita “didn’t [get to testify for Carlos]. And that would have helped Carlos. I believe it would have helped him, somehow. But he did call the house.”);

see Blas Avalos, Stepfather of Carlos DeLuna, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 402–07 (“Then my wife told me Carlos wanted us to give him a ride [to the Gulf Skating Rink] . . . well about 7:00, something like that. . . . He called about 8:00 or 8:15 for us to pick him up. . . . [but] I told my wife to tell him to take a taxi to come home because I was drunk.”);

see also George Aguirre, Witness to Events Outside Shamrock Gas Station, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 227 (“I got in my van and I got on SPID. . . I got off and I went to . . . the skating rink. . . on Kostroyz [and SPID].”);

Map from 2602 South Padre Island Dr., Corpus Christi, Tex. 78415 (the gas station) to 3215 South Padre Island Dr., Corpus Christi, Tex. (the skating rink), Google Maps, http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=2602+South+Padre+Island+Dr.%2C+Corpus+Christi%2C+TX+78415+&daddr=3215+South+Padre+Island+Dr.%2C+Corpus+Christi (last visited May 3, 2012) (indicating that the distance between the two locations is 1.3 miles).

Carlos DeLuna, Defendant in Killing of Wanda Lopez, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 834-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 19, 1983) at 410–11 (“Q. Back on February the 4th, 1983, were you working for Triarch Corporation? A. Yes, sir, I was. Q. And how were you able to get that job? A. By my father, stepfather. Q. And what’s his name? A. Blas Avalos. Q. And prior to getting that job, where had you been? . . . A. I was in prison, sir. . . . Q. From the time of your release [on December 21st, 1982] or at the time of your release, where did you go? A. Home, sir. To my stepfather’s house, 2046 Rockford. Q. And was it after that that you were able to get a job? A. After that, sir, yes, sir.”);

see supra notes 47–49.

Blas Avalos, Stepfather of Carlos DeLuna, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 403 (“Q. Were you and Carlos working together for Triarch? A. Yes, sir. Q. Okay. Did you help him get that job? A. Yes, sir.”);

Carlos DeLuna, Defendant in Killing of Wanda Lopez, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 410 (“Q. Back on February 4, 1983, were you working for Triarch Corporation? A. Yes, sir, I was. Q. And how were you able to get that job? A. By my father, stepfather. Q. And what’s his name? A. Blas Avalos.”).

Carlos’ birthday was March 15, 1962, making him 20 years old at the time of the Lopez murder. See Pre-Disposition Investigation for Carlos DeLuna, Al R. Reyna, Intake Coordinator, Probation Dep’t (June 27, 1978) at 1;

Carlos DeLuna, Defendant in Killing of Wanda Lopez, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 410.

Blas Avalos, Stepfather of Carlos DeLuna, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 402–07 (“Then my wife told me Carlos wanted us to give him a ride [to the Gulf Skating Rink] . . . well about 7:00, something like that. . . . He called about 8:00 or 8:15 for us to pick him up. . . . [but] I told my wife to tell him to take a taxi to come home because I was drunk.”).

Blas Avalos, Stepfather of Carlos DeLuna, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 405 (“About 5:00 . . . my foreman and I, after we got off the job, we [Blas and the foreman] went to cash our checks and get a beer.”).

Blas Avalos, Stepfather of Carlos DeLuna, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 402–07 (“Then my wife told me Carlos wanted us to give him a ride [to the Gulf Skating Rink] . . . well about 7:00, something like that. . . . He called about 8:00 or 8:15 for us to pick him up. . . . [but] I told my wife to tell him to take a taxi to come home because I was drunk.”);

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:28:54–20:30:42 (“Carlos did call her to come pick him up from the skating ring. I believe strongly, my mom blames herself for that, for not going out there and trying to get him. I believe she believes she let him down, knowing that he was that [child with a] broken wing, and she gave up. She gave up when Carlos was convicted for this murder. That’s what killed my mom.”);

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:42:15–20:43:31:

My mom had a problem in seeing, driving late at night. There again, my step-dad was an alcoholic. As soon as he got paid on Friday . . . 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. There again, my mom didn’t see that well at night, so when Carlos called her and asked her for a ride, I don’t know if she—She must have probably known something. My step-father must have asked her or told her something, Carlos called, let him find his way or get his transportation back to the house. I think that’s where my mom blames herself. If she would have just went for him. If she would have just got in that car and went and picked him up, he would not have been in the situation that happened.

See also Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Toni Peña, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 25, 2004) at 3 (“Toni remembered that Carlos had called Margarita and Blas and asked them to pick him up that night [of the Lopez murder], but they were old and did not want to go out at that time of night. It [the crime] happened after that.”).

Blas Avalos, Stepfather of Carlos DeLuna, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 407 (“Q. Did you, in fact, go and pick up Carlos? A. No, I told him—I told my wife to tell him to take a taxi to come home because I was drunk.”);

Carlos DeLuna, Defendant in Killing of Wanda Lopez, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 417–18 (“Q. Why did you call your stepfather? A. To ask him for a ride, sir, to come pick me up . . . . [I]t was close to 8:00.”).

See 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.”).

See generally Peso Chavez’s Notes on Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna (April 5–6, 2004) at 2 (“According to [Rose], after her mother’s death the family became distant and they rarely ever communicate with each other.”).

See Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:28:54–20:30:42, 20:43:57–20–45:42 (“She [Margarita] was the witness that Carlos did call her to come pick him up from the skating rink.”; Margarita “didn’t [get to testify for Carlos]. And that would have helped Carlos. I believe it would have helped him, somehow. But he did call the house.”);

see also Oral Argument on June 20, 1983 Motion for Continuance, Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. June 20, 1983) at 3:

[Defense Counsel] Lawrence: We intend to prove, Your Honor, that on the date in question, that [Margarita] can place him at the home and with her doing a few errands prior to the time the deceased was killed. Also—she also would testify to the fact that she took him to the Gulf Skating Rink and at some time later that he made a phone call to her and all of this evolves very close to the time that this alleged murder took place.

The Court denied Defendant’s Second Motion for a Continuance, which sought a delay based on his mother’s medical conditions and the importance of her testimony. See Oral Argument on June 20, 1983 Motion for Continuance, Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. June 20, 1983) at 99 (discussed supra note 3);

Criminal Docket, Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. Feb. 17, 1983) at 3.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:05:17–20:05:48 (“I believe my mom gave up. That’s what I believe. My mom was tired, and she gave up. She just got tired.”);

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:28:54–20:30:42:

So when Carlos was convicted for this murder, my mom was—That was it. She knew, deep in her heart, that there wasn’t—She didn’t know how to get him out of it. If she could, she would. . . . Carlos did call her to come pick him up from the skating ring. I believe strongly, my mom blames herself for that, for not going out there and trying to get him. I believe she believes she let him down, knowing that he was that broken wing, and she gave up. She gave up when Carlos was convicted for this murder. That’s what killed my mom. I believe that. She was tired. She was tired. She just did not know what else to do.

See also Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Toni Peña, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 25, 2004) at 4 (“Toni did not attend the trial, but her sister Mary went every day. A couple of times, Mary took [Toni’s daughter] Belinda with her.”).

See sources cited supra note 88.

See sources cited supra note 88.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:28:54–20:30:42 (“Carlos did call her to come pick him up from the skating rink. I believe strongly, my mom blames herself for that, for not going out there and trying to get him. I believe she believes she let him down, knowing that he was that [child with the] broken wing, and she gave up. She gave up when Carlos was convicted for this murder. That’s what killed my mom.”);

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:42:15–20:43:31:

My mom had a problem in seeing, driving late at night. There again, my step-dad was an alcoholic. As soon as he got paid on Friday . . . 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. There again, my mom didn’t see that well at night, so when Carlos called her and asked her for a ride, I don’t know if she—She must have probably known something. My step-father must have asked her or told her something, Carlos called, let him find his way or get his transportation back to the house. I think that’s where my mom blames herself. If she would have just went for him. If she would have just got in that car and went and picked him up, he would not have been in the situation that happened.

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Toni Peña, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 25, 2004) at 3 (“Toni found out about Carlos when he called her and told her he had been arrested, and they were not going to let him go. He did not seem to understand what had happened to him.”).

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Toni Peña, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 25, 2004) at 4.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005), at 20:42:15–20:43:31 (“I think that’s where my mom blames herself. If she would have just went for him. If she would have just got in that car and went and picked him up, he would not have been in the situation that happened.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:05:17–20:05:48 (“I believe my mom gave up. That’s what I believe. My mom was tired, and she gave up. She just got tired.”);

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:28:54–20:30:42:

So when Carlos was convicted for this murder, my mom was . . . That was it. She knew, deep in her heart, that there wasn’t—She didn’t know how to get him out of it. If she could, she would. . . . She gave up when Carlos was convicted for this murder. That’s what killed my mom. . . . She gave up when Carlos was convicted for this murder. That’s what killed my mom. I believe that. She was tired. She was tired. She just did not know what else to do.

See also James S. Liebman’s Notes on Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 17, 2004) at 2:

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 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.

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna (July 19, 2004) at 6 (“Rose stated that, for a long time, she blamed their mother for Carlos getting the death penalty.”);

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. But one of my sisters does blame my mother. I don’t know why, but she does.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:30:42–20:32:34 (“As I remember, recalling, my mom died in 1983, and this was in August 1983 when my mom passed away. Carlos was, I believe it was in February of ’83, that they claimed that Carlos committed this crime. My mom passed away in August of ’83.”).

See sources cited infra note 99 and accompanying text.

Chapter 5
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