Figure 11. The DeLuna children in the 1970s: (Left, clockwise from top left) Manuel, Mary Conejo, Rose and Carlos. (Center, from left) Carlos and Manuel. (Right) Carlos.
Rose remembered Carlos as “a follower. Carlos followed people.” If one of the DeLuna siblings was up to no good, it was Carlos’s older brother, Manuel. Manuel was always the instigator, and Carlos did what Manuel said.108
One Christmas, Margarita bought Manuel and Carlos bicycles. Soon after, off Carlos went on his bike, following Manuel, who said he would lead them from their Gulf Coast home to north Texas, where their older brothers and sisters lived. They were quickly caught and punished for skipping school.109
That was Carlos, Rose recalled: doing whatever Manuel said — including taking the rap when his older brother misbehaved.110 Manuel would blame Carlos, Rose explained, and her younger brother would never defend himself. “It was always Carlos taking the blame for Manuel,” agreeing that he was the one at fault.111 Although not one to admit his own failings, Manuel agreed with his sister about Carlos. “My brother was not a leader,” he told the investigators, “he was a follower. He could be brainwashed to do anything.”112
At Carlos’s trial, the prosecution called Eddie Garza, the celebrated Corpus Christi police detective, to testify that Carlos had a “bad character” as a teenager.113 Garza worked the city’s Hispanic neighborhoods and knew all the troublemakers.114 Rose despised Garza for what he said about her brother at the trial. But Garza’s assessment of Carlos in an interview at his detective agency years later was not so different from Rose’s.
Garza remembered Carlos as “a slow thinker. I wouldn’t say a complete retard, he wasn’t that. He was just a slow thinker, a follower, not a leader.”115 He was someone the others “would tell . . . ‘Go do this’ or ‘Go do that’ and the guy would follow what someone else told him. He wasn’t a person that would stand up and think on his own what he was going to do.”116
Carlos’s elementary school teachers referred him to Special Services for evaluation because he was so far behind in class. A sixth grade teacher wrote, “He can read but can’t comprehend. He is lost on abstract concepts such as fractions. He does pretty well one-to-one but can’t function in even a small group. His attention span is extremely short.”117
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005), at 20:20:52–20:21:50:
Carlos was a follower. He was a follower. Carlos could never—You have different kinds of categories of people. Carlos was never the instigator. That was always my older brother, Manuel. He was always the instigator. . . . Carlos was a follower, Carlos followed people. . . . I’m not a follower, but when we were kids, I recall our older brother starting up, “We’re going to do this, we’re going to plan this, and you’re going to do this, Carlos, and Rose, you’re going to do this,” because my mom and dad worked. My mom cleaned houses, my dad, step-dad worked at construction. So we stayed home all day during the summer. We were home. And Manuel was the instigator. He would plan stuff and we would follow. So Carlos was a follower, Carlos followed people.
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:22:00–20:23:12 (“My mother, Manuel and Carlos, one Christmas, bought them bicycles. Manuel was the instigator, and they were going to take off from Corpus Christi, Texas, all the way to Dallas, Texas. I have brothers and sisters living in Dallas, older brothers and sisters living in Dallas, in Garland, Texas. Manuel planned that they were going to take these two bicycles, ride these two bicycles all the way to Dallas. They got caught, got thrown into juvenile . . . .”).
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:22:00–20:23:12:
Carlos would follow right behind [Manuel], constantly. And Carlos would always take the blame for Manuel, and then he [Manuel] would always blame us, [saying that] myself and my brother, Carlos did it. We’re the ones that did it, we’re the ones that set it all up, and we’re to blame. We would get in trouble, and Carlos would always take the blame. He would never say, “What. It was Manuel.” It was always Carlos taking the blame for Manuel, constantly.
James S. Liebman’s Notes on Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 17, 2004) at 2 (“My brother was not a leader; he was a follower. He could be brainwashed to do anything. He was a good kid.”).
Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, Sentencing Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 21, 1983) at 11–12 (“Q. Are you familiar with the reputation he [Carlos DeLuna] enjoys in this community for being a peaceable and law-abiding citizen? A. [by Garza]: Yes, I am. Q. Is that reputation good or bad? A. It’s bad.”);
see Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 02:59:38–03:00:38 (“I knew [Detective] Eddie [Garza]. He was a nice guy. He had a good reputation just as being a good guy and a good cop . . . . Paul [Rivera] and Eddie were like Batman and Robin. At that time, they were the greatest detectives ever.”);
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Jon Kelly, Lawyer for Carlos Hernandez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 9, 2004) at 06:22:16–06:24:02, 06:24:24–06:25:40 (“The two gentleman in the picture with Carlos [DeLuna] there, to his left and to the right of the picture [are] Eddie Garza, and just behind Carlos is Paul Rivera, now I believe Chief Deputy of the Nueces County Sheriff’s Office. They were the top murder investigators for the CCPD at that time”; “Eddie and Paul were conscientious. They were very good investigators. . . . They were the city’s top murder investigators. . . . [T]hey were tough, but in the end, they tried to be fair.”);
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Jon Kelly, Lawyer for Carlos Hernandez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 9, 2004) at 06:25:40–06:27:36:
The two gentlemen in the picture with Carlos Hernandez are, the first one is Eddie Garza, and the other officer behind Carlos [DeLuna] is Paul Rivera. Eddie and Paul were the two top investigators for the Corpus Christi Police Department. There were even people senior, but if you had a serious murder case, and you wanted it investigated seriously, you wanted Eddie and Paul. They were considered the top people. I mean, if there were others involved they usually were on the periphery, and Paul and Eddie would do the serious, on-the-ground investigation. They could, at times, be ruthless, but they had—Actually, I didn’t think they were violent men. I dealt with them in numerous cases. It wasn’t the stereotypical picture of hitting people or anything, they didn’t do things like that. Sometimes they had tunnel vision, and sometimes the forest for the trees was lost. But in the end, they would see the light, and their reputation was that they were fair men. And that, if shown, or if they came upon evidence that would harm their case, but actually, they thought, led to a different result, they wouldn’t hide it.
Tamara Theiss’s Notes on Interview with Olivia Escobedo, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Wanda Lopez and Dahlia Sauceda Cases (Feb. 27, 2005) at 1 (“I worked under [Detectives] Paul Rivera and Eddie Garza. . . . [T]hey taught me everything I know about how to work up a case. They really acted as my mentors . . . [and] taught me to go down every rabbit hole to see where it led, no matter what the result . . . [and] investigate every angle and every lead in a case, even if it didn’t pan out.”).
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:27:32–00:27:59 (“We had a tendency, me and my partner, that we would stop and talk to all the people that were hanging around in that [Hispanic] area [ofr town near Staples and Mary Streets], try to identify who was hanging around with who, and who ran with who, in case later on there was a crime committed, we could actually pinpoint, by description of these individuals, who might be involved in these particular crimes that were committed in that general area.”).
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:37:43–00:38:47:
Carlos DeLuna was sort of a slow thinker. I wouldn’t say he that he was a complete retarded person. He was just slow in thinking. And he wasn’t a violent person that I can remember. He was just a slow person, a follower, someone that, they would tell him “Go do this” or “Go do that” and the guy would follow what someone else told him. He wasn’t a person that would stand up and think on his own what he was going to do. Most of his habits was really intoxication and petty theft, but nothing in the violent part of . . . that you would say Carlos DeLuna is a very violent person. Never, never did I have anything dealing with any violence. Mostly it was just that he was a slow thinker . . . . He was just a slow thinker, a follower, not a leader.
Duncan Ryan, Teacher, Corpus Christi Ind. Sch. Dist., Student Referral for Special Services (undated) at 1:
Name of Pupil: Carlos DeLuna. Age: 11. Grade: 6. It is suggested that the student be referred for: Psychological/Educational Evaluation. 1. Briefly Describe The Reasons for Referral: . . . Carlos is a discipline problem in class. If the teacher turns his back for a minute, Carlos has gotten up and moved. He interferes with his classmates’ learning. He can read but can’t comprehend. He is lost on abstract concepts such as fractions. He does pretty well one-to-one but can’t function in even a small group. His attention span is extremely short.