HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 6
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Part II: The Lives of Carlos Hernandez

Chapter 6

Probation and Parole

In the 1970s and 80s, Corpus Christi was a city of many poor Hispanic neighborhoods. In its geographic center stood the Armada projects, where Carlos DeLuna and his siblings grew up.1 Two miles south, near the Sigmor Shamrock station, sat the dilapidated neighborhood where the police hunted Wanda Lopez’s killer and arrested DeLuna.2 Hugging the eastern edge of the City along Corpus Christi Bay, the largest of the Corpus barrios ran several miles south from downtown.3

The one institution in the city that regularly brought young Latinos together from all these neighborhoods was the Casino Club, on South Port Street.

Located about a mile north of the Armada Park area and a mile west of the downtown and bay front barrios, the Casino Club was notoriously “rough” and “wild.”4 People who hung out there in the 70s and 80s vividly recalled the scene played out almost every night: drinking (much of it underage), dancing, and “fights both inside and outside the club.”5 “Sometimes, people died” there.6

Yolanda Ortiz owned the club until it closed in the late 1980s. Describing it to investigators years later, she made no bones about what went on at the place.

“The Club was a rough place,” Ortiz said. “Stabbings were common and occurred almost weekly.”7 Cataloging some of the more memorable crimes,8 Ortiz recalled a “bouncer . . . shot in the leg by a patron in the 80’s. Two or three times [she] took butcher knives away from patrons.”9 “One time a girl was stabbed or shot in the parking lot and she died.”10 Another time Ortiz recalled that “a patron, David Lamb, had a small spot of blood on his shirt,” and she asked him “if he had been in a fight. David said, ‘what?’” and then fell to the floor, dead from the wound.11 Off-duty Corpus Christi cops kept order for $10 an hour.12 More than one of them was caught selling drugs.13

Most of the “crowds of regulars,” however, just drank and danced.14 “The dance floor was large with a big projector screen on the wall next to it where pictures of patrons were shown while they were dancing,”15 Ortiz told the investigators. “Everyone wanted their picture on the screen.”16

Ortiz easily recalled Manuel DeLuna as a regular and dimly recollected his younger brother Carlos, who “would get drunk a lot, and they would ask him to leave.”17 Years later, Ortiz was able to rattle off the names of the people the DeLunas hung out with at the club: Beto Velo, the Perales sisters—Linda and Mary Ann—Pedro Olivarez and Jesse Garza.18

Another Casino Club regular at the time was Mary Margaret Tapia.19 Margie, as everyone called her,20 grew up on Carrizo Street, in one of the poorest parts of the barrio near downtown and the bay front. Margie started going to the club in early 1978, about the same time as Carlos DeLuna was first arrested there for drunk and disorderly.21

Margie was a rebel, who did whatever her mother didn’t want her to do.22 Although only fourteen years old at the time,23 she chatted up the bouncers at “the Casino,” and they let her inside.24 She spent as much time there as she could, dancing and drinking and seeing where things would go with the older guys she met.25 Margie, too, recalled the DeLuna brothers from the club, as well as another, more memorable, man the DeLunas sometimes associated with. His name was Carlos Hernandez.26

* * * * *

See supra Chapter 5, notes 10–11 and accompanying text.

See supra note 7.

See supra note 7.

See supra note 7.

See supra note 7.

See, e.g., Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Linda Perales, Step-Mother of Pricilla Hernandez Jaramillo and Ex-Wife of Manuel DeLuna (July 24, 2004) at 2 (“They all [the DeLuna brothers and Linda Perales and her sister Mary Ann] hung out at the Casino Club. Linda loved that place. She loved to go there and dance.”);

Bruce Whitman’s Notes on Interview with Pedro Olivarez, Witness Against Jesse Garza in Trial for Murdering Dahlia Sauceda (Aug. 20, 2004; March 1, 2005) at 1 (“Pedro Olivarez was a regular patron at the Casino Club in 1989. Pedro hung out there with his friends including Jessie Garza. The usual activity at the Club was to drink, dance and visit with friends.”);

supra note 7.

Bruce Whitman’s Notes on Interview with Yolanda Ortiz, Owner of Casino Club (Sept. 21, 2004) at 1;

see also Transcribed Videotaped Interview with Yolanda Ortiz, Owner of Casino Club, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 5, 2004) at 1.

Bruce Whitman’s Notes on Interview with Yolanda Ortiz, Owner of Casino Club (Sept. 21, 2004) at 1;

see also Transcribed Videotaped Interview with Yolanda Ortiz, Owner of Casino Club, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 5, 2004) at 1.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Yolanda Ortiz, Owner of Casino Club, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 5, 2004) at 09:17:09–09:17:38 (“Well, to my recollection, I can’t really tell you much about [Carlos DeLuna] because I know he was, he would get drunk a lot, and they would ask him to leave.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Yolanda Ortiz, Owner of Casino Club, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 5, 2004) at 09:12:21–09:14:18:

Beto Vela would go in the club, he would walk, like I said, straight to the bar and buy his coke and most of the people around him were either Pete Olivarez or Henry Vela or, like, Jesse Garza, and DeLuna, Carlos DeLuna, or Manuel DeLuna would be there, you know, so. And the girls would be most of the . . . they would all be there, like, Teresa, Teresa, and Yolanda Lucio, and Linda Perales. Mary Ann, Mary Ann Perales did not go that much but she would be there, sometimes, with them, talking. They would all be there talking, and they would dance. Beto would dance a lot, he was a dancer. He was always dancing with most of the girls there. . . . I heard about [Paula Hernandez] being [with Beto Vela], but I don’t remember her, really.

Bruce Whitman’s Notes on Interview with Mary Margaret Tapia, Girlfriend of Carlos Hernandez (Sept. 24 and 26, 2004) at 4 (“Margie started going to the Casino Club when she was 14 1/2 years old in January of 1978—September of 1978 and started going again late in 1979 to January of 1980. She knew the doorman Rick Vargas who let her in underage.”).

See supra Chapter 1, note 18 and accompanying text; supra Chapter 2, notes 183–184 and accompanying text.

Transcribed Videotaped Interview with Mary Margaret Tapia, Girlfriend of Carlos Hernandez, in San Antonio, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 04:37:56–04:38:33 (“My name is Mary Margaret Tapia, everybody knows me by Margie.”).

See supra Chapter 5, notes 160–162 and accompanying text.

Transcribed Videotaped Interview with Mary Margaret Tapia, Girlfriend of Carlos Hernandez, in San Antonio, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 04:41:29–04:41:35 (“I was a very rebellious teenager. I always did everything that my mom didn’t want me to do.”).

Bruce Whitman’s Notes on Interview with Mary Margaret Tapia, Girlfriend of Carlos Hernandez (Sept. 24 and 26, 2004) at 4 (“Margie started going to the Casino Club when she was 14 1/2 years old in January of 1978—September of 1978 and started going again late in 1979 to January of 1980. She knew the doorman Rick Vargas who let her in underage.”).

Transcribed Videotaped Interview with Mary Margaret Tapia, Girlfriend of Carlos Hernandez, in San Antonio, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 04:41:44–04:42:23 (“I went to a club called the Casino and the White Rabbit. Of course I was under age but I went in there anyway. Just hang around with just my friends. . . . [We k]new the security guard, they would let us in.”).

See Transcribed Videotaped Interview with Mary Margaret Tapia, Girlfriend of Carlos Hernandez, in San Antonio, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 04:42:02-:04:42:13 (“We danced and there was a lot of drugs going on. . . . [They served] lots of alcohol to minors.”).

Bruce Whitman’s Notes on Interview with Mary Margaret Tapia, Girlfriend of Carlos Hernandez (Sept. 24 and 26, 2004) at 4:

Margie started going to the Casino Club when she was 14 1/2 years old in January of 1978—September of 1978 and started going again late in 1979 to January of 1980. . . . While at the Casino Club Margie saw Carlos De Luna often and Carlos Hernandez once in awhile, and a few times she saw Carlos Hernandez and Carlos De Luna together at the Casino Club. Carlos Hernandez preferred the cantina’s [sic] to the Casino Club. Others she remembers at the Casino Club in addition to Carlos Hernandez and Carlos De Luna were: sisters Mary Ann, Diana, and Linda Perales, Juan (unk), Beto Vela, and Henry Vela. In 1980 Margie started going to the “The Corner Pocket”, a billiards bar on Ayers and Baldwin. Margie saw Carlos De Luna hanging out on Carrizo Street and at parities [sic] at the Zamora’s attended by Carlos Hernandez.

See Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Cruz, Private Investigator for Defendant Jesse Garza in Dahlia Sauceda Case, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Feb. 25, 2005) at 19:22:16 (“[Carlos Hernandez] knew he was good. And Carlos liked the spotlight, so to speak. Just like my nephew. Those guys were good-looking guys, and [Cruz’ nephew] Jesse [Garza] liked the spotlight and Carlos [Hernandez] liked the spotlight. And they knew they could go into the Casino Club and score any time they wanted to. They both frequented the club.”);

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:35:50–20:36:25:

Q. There was a club in Corpus Christi called the Casino Club. Did you ever hear of that?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. Did you ever go to the Casino?

A. No, never.

Q. Do you know anyone that did go to the Casino?

A. My brother, Manuel, went there constantly, to the Casino Club. And Carlos went there, too, to hang out.

Q. So if, let’s say, Carlos Hernandez hung out at the Casino Club, that might be a place where your brother, Manuel, knew him.

A. Yes, yes. Manuel hanged [sic] out a lot at the Casino Club. Yes, that was his favorite place.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Freddy Schilling, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 13:53:04–13:54:07 (“Q. Tell me about the Casino club. A. It’s a disco club, you know, the majority of the neighborhood used to hang out in. This is where, everybody, I guess, went to have a good time. . . . Q. And who else went to the Casino club that you know? A. A bunch of people that I knew, Carlos Hernandez . . .”);

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Dina Ybañez, Neighbor of Carlos Hernandez (Dec. 7, 2004) at 03:49:04 (“[Carlos Hernandez] used to go to El Casino. El Casino Club. They don’t have it open no more.”);

James S. Liebman’s Notes on Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 17, 2004) at 1 (“[D]o I know CH [Carlos Hernandez]? We all went to the Club Casino.”);

Bruce Whitman & James S. Liebman’s Notes on Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective (Aug. 25, 2004) at 2 (recalling that Carlos Hernandez frequented the Casino Club and a bar near South Bluff Park);

Susan Montez’s Notes on Interview with Linda Perales, Step-Mother of Pricilla Hernandez Jaramillo and Ex-Wife of Manuel DeLuna (July 24, 2004) at 2 (“Linda knew Carlos DeLuna because she liked and hung out with his brother Manuel. . . . Linda remembered Carlos as being ‘real hyper.’ He talked fast and drank a lot. They all hung out at the Casino Club. Linda loved that place. She loved to go there and dance.”);

Peso Chavez’s Notes on Interview with Freddy Schilling, Brother-in-Law of Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 5, 2004) at 1 (“C[arlos] Hernandez hung out at Casino Club.”);

James S. Liebman’s Notes on Interview with Dina Ybañez, Neighbor of Carlos Hernandez (July 13, 2004) at 2 (“Casino Club on Port Street & Marga[rita]. . . He [Carlos Hernandez] would go there. There were killings, stabbings and fights. Dance club, served alcohol.”);

infra notes 188, 198 and accompanying text; supra Chapter 5, notes 50, 152, 160, 163, 181–184, 188–189, 227, 230 and accompanying text; infra Chapter 7, notes 7, 57, 221–222, 227 and accompanying text; infra Chapter 9, note 122 and accompanying text, infra Chapter 13, notes 69–273 and accompanying text.

See infra Chapter 7, note 34 and accompanying text; infra Chapter 8, notes 1–5, 44 and accompanying text; infra Chapter 9, notes 69–71 and accompanying text. To see the relationship and distances between these neighborhoods and other points of interest in Corpus Christi, see the map in the introductory “People and Places” section of this monograph, or use the Map Quest website and plot the travel times between 2601 South Padre Island Drive in Corpus Christi, Texas (the Sigmor-Shamrock gas station), 3701 Ayers (the Armada Projects area), 217 S. Carrizo (Fidela Hernandez’s residence), and 1001 South Port (the Casino Club). MapQuest, http://www.mapquest.com/maps?city=Corpus%20Christi&state=TX (last visited Feb. 13, 2012).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Yolanda Ortiz, Owner of Casino Club, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 5, 2004) at 09:06:53–09:07:36, 09:08:16–09:08:46, 09:09:12:

A. The Casino Club was started in the early 70’s and it was a Tejano club, and it was a, music was big, a DJ, and we had Top 40 music too. And it was a place where the young generation was mostly in there. You know, younger kids, real popular and it was a place that everybody hanged out.

Q. Where was it located?

A. . . . South Port and um [pause]

Q. Where did the kids who came there come from? What community in Corpus Christi did they come from mostly?

A. It was mostly I guess, what do you call them, from I mean, from that area which was, it was not middle class people, it was ah [pause] what do you call them, from the barrio [pause] people. Mostly barrio people. But then we would get them from everywhere too, but our majority was all from the neighborhood people, from there, from that area.

Q. And what did people do when they came to The Club Casino?

A. They would come in, they would drink and dance. . . .

Q. Why did you need security?

A. ‘Cause it was a rowdy place, we had a lot of fights and um that’s why we had to have them there.

Q. Were there ever any incidents?

A. There were stabbings. Shootings. But mostly fights. . . .

Q. Where did [the club security guards], where did they work during the day. If they were working?

A. City policemen. For the city. They worked for the city.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:35:50–20:36:25:

Q. There was a club in Corpus Christi called the Casino Club. Did you ever hear of that?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. Did you ever go to the Casino?

A. No, never.

Q. Do you know anyone that did go to the Casino?

A. My brother, Manuel, went there constantly, to the Casino Club. And Carlos went there, too, to hang out.

Q. So if, let’s say, Carlos Hernandez hung out at the Casino Club, that might be a place where your brother, Manuel, knew him.

A. Yes, yes. Manuel hanged [sic] out a lot at the Casino Club. Yes, that was his favorite place.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Freddy Schilling, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 13:53:04–13:54:07:

Q. Tell me about the Casino club.

A. It’s a disco club, you know, the majority of the neighborhood used to hang out in. This is where, everybody, I guess, went to have a good time. The Casino was located at South Port. It’s a place where everybody, friends would meet. . . . I didn’t hang out myself there all the time, I just, you know, on the weekend or something I would go. It wasn’t every weekend, like maybe once a month or so, something like that.

Q. And who else went to the Casino club that you know?

A. A bunch of people that I knew, Carlos Hernandez . . . . I had friends.

Transcribed Videotaped Interview with Mary Margaret Tapia, Girlfriend of Carlos Hernandez, in San Antonio, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 04:41:44–04:42:25, 04:44:13–04:44:21:

A. I went to a club called the Casino . . . . Of course I was under age but I went in there anyway. Just hang around with just my friends. That was before I found out I was pregnant.

Q. What did the people do at [the Casino Club], danced and what else?

A. We danced and there was a lot of drugs going on.

Q. Did they serve alcohol at these clubs?

A. Uh, Lots of alcohol to minors.

Q. Now you just said to minors, now how did you manage to get into this club?

A. Knew the security guard, they would let us in.

Q. Was it unusual for kids your age to be there?

A. No, no not if you knew somebody in the club. If you knew somebody in the club that could get you in, you were in. . . .

Q. So tell me when you went to the Casino Club if you can remember approximately.

A. Approximately late ’77 early ’78, the Casino, it was, that’s where everybody hung out, if you wanted to be known you would hang out at the Casino.

Bruce Whitman’s Notes on Interview with Johnny Arsuaga, Cousin of Carlos Hernandez and John Arsuaga (Nov. 3, 2005) (“Johnny was a boxer [who] had hung out at the Casino Club on Port St. . . . . Johnny remembers Yolanda [Ortiz, the club’s owner], the dancing, the fights both inside and outside the club and that sometimes people died at the Club. According to Johnny the Casino Club was a rough place and you had to be tough to hang out there.”);

Lauren Eskenazi & Sita Sovin’s Notes on Interview with Mary Ann Perales Benavides, Witness Against Carlos DeLuna, and Ruben Benavides, Mary Ann’s Husband (Sept. 15, 2004) at 1–2:

Ruben told us about the Casino Club which he had been to twice in his life. He states that the crowd at the Casino Club was rough. Once when he went, he was ‘jumped’ because he and his friends danced with some girls who were at the club. Ruben also explained that gangs did not ‘represent’ back then—but that groups of men still hung out together and protected their territory and one another which is what was happening at the Casino Club.

James S. Liebman’s Notes on Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 17, 2004) at 1 (“I would like to go to the Club. I used to go to the club in the late 1970s and 1980s. . . . They let me in (though I was under-age) because I knew the owner’s daughter. That club was weird and wild.”);

Bruce Whitman’s Notes on Interview with Yolanda Ortiz, Owner of Casino Club (Sept. 21, 2004) at 1:

In its day the Club was a very popular meeting, drinking, dancing place for younger Hispanic[s]. Many people walked to the Club, there were few cars in the parking lot compared to the number o[f] people inside. The dance floor was large with a big projector screen on the wall next to it where pictures of patrons were shown while they were dancing. Everyone wanted their picture on the screen so there are lots of slide pictures of everyone during the time [Ortiz] ran the club. There was always crowd of regulars who [were] at the club [every day]. Ricky Hernandez helped at the club with cleanup. Off duty CCPD policeman were paid $10.00 an hour from 10:00 p.m. to closing to provide security. Two of the cops who worked off duty at the club were fired from the police department for dealing drugs. . . . The Club was a rough place. Many men carried knives and the employees and the police frequently took them away. Stabbings were common an[d] occurred almost weekly. One time a girl was stabbed or shot in the parking lot and she died. Another time Yolanda noticed a patron, David Lamb, had a small spot of blood on his shirt [and] she asked him if he had been in a fight? David said, “what?” He fell to the floor and died on the spot. . . . A bouncer . . . at the Club was shot in the leg by a patron in the 80’s. Two or three times Yolanda took butcher kni[v]es away from patrons.

James S. Liebman’s Notes on Interview with Paul Rivera, Corpus Christi Police Detective (July 14, 2004) at 5 (“Casino Club: 900 [sic—1000] Block of Port. Pau[l] worked there off duty. Lots of fights. Low class of people.”);

James S. Liebman’s Notes on Interview with Dina Ybañez, Neighbor of Carlos Hernandez (July 13, 2004) at 2 (“Casino Club on Port Street & Marga[rita]. . . He [Carlos Hernandez] would go there. There were killings, stabbings and fights. Dance club, served alcohol.”).

See supra note 4.

See sources cited supra note 4.

Bruce Whitman’s Notes on Interview with Yolanda Ortiz, Owner of Casino Club (Sept. 21, 2004) at 1;

see also Transcribed Videotaped Interview with Yolanda Ortiz, Owner of Casino Club, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 5, 2004) at 09:06:53–09:07:36, 09:08:16–09:08:46, 09:09:12:

A. The Casino Club was started in the early 70’s and it was a Tejano club, and it was a, music was big, a DJ, and we had Top 40 music too. And it was a place where the young generation was mostly in there. You know, younger kids, real popular and it was a place that everybody hanged out.

Q. Where was it located?

A. . . . South Port and um [pause]

Q. Where did the kids who came there come from? What community in Corpus Christi did they come from mostly?

A. It was mostly I guess, what do you call them, from I mean, from that area which was, it was not middle class people, it was ah [pause] what do you call them, from the barrio [pause] people. Mostly barrio people. But then we would get them from everywhere too, but our majority was all from the neighborhood people, from there, from that area.

Q. And what did people do when they came to The Club Casino?

A. They would come in, they would drink and dance. . . .

Q. Why did you need security?

A. ‘Cause it was a rowdy place, we had a lot of fights and um that’s why we had to have them there.

Q. Were there ever any incidents?

A. There were stabbings. Shootings. But mostly fights. . . .

Q. Where did [the club security guards], where did they work during the day. If they were working?

A. City policemen. For the city. They worked for the city.

See supra note 7.

See supra note 7.

Chapter 6
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