Once, when Kelly was involved in a highly political prosecution involving the city council, someone broke into his house. Carlos said the cops wouldn't be able to do anything and offered to find the guy himself and take care of it. Kelly had a pretty good idea of what Carlos meant. He took the offer as a gesture of respect, but turned it down.206
Hernandez and Kelly became close. They drank beer and smoked pot together, frequenting some notorious local cantinas.209 Something about the way Carlos carried himself, and the way others feared and respected him, appealed to the lawyer.210 Through all of it, though, Kelly stuck by his rule. Whenever Carlos started to talk about the bad things he'd done, the attorney would shut him down. There were some things, Kelly said later, he didn't want to know.211
* * * * *
Others, however, couldn't stop Hernandez from telling them what he knew.212 He told both the son of his mother's friend and the son of a girlfriend that he had killed Dahlia—providing details in the latter case.213 His niece Pricilla heard Carlos talk about hurting a woman in a van. There was a little girl there, too. Pricilla would run inside her grandmother's house when she heard Carlos say things like that.214
When Carlos fought Freddy Schilling, he would threaten "to kill you just like I killed that bitch of yours."215 Freddy heard from Paula that Carlos had killed Dahlia for her.216 Paula told Rita Hull the same thing as she was dying of cancer—"Carlos felt guilty for killing Louis in the car accident and was trying to make it up to Paula by killing Dahlia."217 Paula even told her teenage son that his uncle Carlos had carved an 'X" on a woman's back.218
Dina Ybañez got the worst of it, however. She was Hernandez's neighbor in the years after Kelly sprung him. There were things Carlos was proud of, she told investigators—things he thought defined him as a man. One was his ability to kill and get away with it.219
Dahlia Sauceda was his first victim, Hernandez told Dina. He'd killed her in the back of a van, in front of her baby girl. He almost killed the baby, as well, but didn't.220 There was another woman, too, he said. And Dina just missed being killed herself.
* * * * *
Still, there is the question of Pedro Olivarez, who claimed to have seen Jesse Garza kill Dahlia Sauceda.
Almost twenty-five years after Dahlia's murder, Olivarez agreed to set the record straight—urged on, again, by his elderly father. Initially, however, Pedro refused to discuss the matter. He changed his mind only after being told that Carlos Hernandez was dead, and then only after being shown the man's death certificate.
Olivarez admitted to the investigator what twelve jurors in Jesse Garza's case had long since figured out: he'd made up the story about Garza killing Dahlia. Dahlia had, in fact, picked up Garza and Olivarez outside of the Casino Club and invited them to go cruising with her and some others.221 And there was, in fact, a brooding mustachioed man with Dahlia—the man Olivarez and everyone one else in the van knew, but were afraid to say, was Carlos Hernandez.222
When Garza and Olivarez climbed into the back, Hernandez occupied what in Dahlia's "Happy Time" world counted as the place of honor: the front passenger seat next to her. But Dahlia had her eye on flashy Jesse Garza, and she made Carlos move to the rear, so Jesse could sit next to her.
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Jon Kelly, Lawyer for Carlos Hernandez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 9, 2004) at 07:26:39–07:29:33:
There was a situation where a city councilman was caught doing something he shouldn't have been doing. And I was hired by a group of citizens to prosecute, before the city council, the ouster, pursuant to the city charter, of that person. It was an extremely political case and was front page news for the good part of a month, lead story on the six-o-clock news three, at least three days a week. It was an ethnic, degenerated into, it had really nothing to do with that, but it degenerated into: It was the power structure and that person, Frank Mendez, was their boy, and the outsiders, and they played pretty rough. At one point my son was at home after school, and someone broke into our house. And my son saw him and had enough brains to call the cops. And Carlos found out about it and asked it [sic] he, if I wanted him to look into it. Because there was no way the cops could identify the person. Couldn't expect them to. . . . I would have imagined he would have taken care of the problem. I understood . . . I considered it a gesture of respect.
See, e.g., infra Chapter 17 notes 87–99 and accompanying text.
Protective Order, In re Fidela Gonzalez Hernandez and Javier Hernandez, No. 87–6919-H (Nueces Cty., 347th Dist. Tex. Jan. 27, 1988) at 2;
Application for Protective Order, In re Fidela Gonzalez Hernandez and Javier Hernandez, No. 87–6919-H (Nueces Cty., 347th Dist. Tex. Dec. 22, 1987) ("This application is brought on behalf of FIDELA GONZALEZ HERNANDEZ by JON J. KELLY, a licensed attorney in Nueces County, Texas.").
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Jon Kelly, Lawyer for Carlos Hernandez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 9, 2004) at 06:47:13–06:48:07, 06:33:16–6:34:22 ("I used to like Schlitz, and we would drink that. Smoke grass. I mean, [Hernandez] was—But I never saw him deeply involved in drugs. I don't remember him as an intravenous drug user. . . . The men, when we were walking [into a bar], were rather boisterous around the pool table. When Carlos was seen it became very quiet. And, you know, you knew that something, that people were saying, 'That's Carlos Hernandez.' I got that feeling.");
Peso Chavez & James S. Liebman's Notes on Interviews with Jon Kelly, Lawyer for Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 16, 18, 20, 2004) at 2–4:
People gave him [Carlos Hernandez] a wide berth. . . . [Hernandez was a] Tough guy. Mexican. Let it be known he was tough. Nobody bothered him. If he chose to play pool in a Cantina, people moved away. They let him play. Went drinking at a bar with Carlos. . . . [In] a cantina, he was given leeway by people. The only people who would challenge him were looking for a fight. Cantina etiquette was to give him plenty of room. . . . He could be frightening. I saw that. Someone he didn't like, and vice versa; CH responded in kind. I knew it was time to leave. I do remember in a cantina people saying, "you represent Carlos, he's a bad guy."
Peso Chavez & James S. Liebman's Notes on Interviews with Jon Kelly, Lawyer for Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 16, 18, 20, 2004) at 8:
"I saw in the reaction to him by people [at the cantina] that they gave him some berth." Which Cantina: It wasn't an awful place. On Port a little further out. Wasn't all cement bricks; had real tables and chairs; pool; people there appeared to know him. He asked where do you want to go. Carlos was with me; not frightening [for me to go]; clearly a cantina, not where lawyers would normally go, ever. Why did you go? He wanted me [to go]. Maybe he got me information. I offered him money for it. He said no, you'll do m[e] a favor some time; buy me a beer. So he took me to the bar; I asked him where he wanted to go.
Peso Chavez & James S. Liebman Notes on Interviews with Jon Kelly, Lawyer for Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 16, 18, 20, 2004) at 4–5, 7 (discussing a confrontation in a bar Kelly saw when he went there with Hernandez: "He [Carlos Hernandez] said, 'I beat up his girlfriend' (explaining why someone was hostile to him in a cantina). . . . I remember the confrontation; fists, knives; menacing. I knew it was time to leave. I don't know what would happen. Ugly things were said. He [Hernandez] wouldn't back down usually."; "He [Hernandez] could be frightening. I saw that. Someone he didn't like, and vice versa; CH [Carlos Hernandez] responded in kind. I knew it was time to leave."; "JK [John Kelly said he] smoked grass with him [Carlos Hernandez]");
see Transcribed Videotape Interview with Marcella Brown, Friend of Carlos Hernandez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 13:34:04–13:34:48 (recalling Carlos Hernandez discussing his and Jon Kelly's use of marijuana).
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Jon Kelly, Lawyer for Carlos Hernandez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 9, 2004) at 06:32:07–06:34:22 ("We even went to a cantina on Port Street one time. And I think what you remember about Carlos Hernandez and I walking into that cantina was that it was very clear in that cantina that he was known. . . . And, you know, you knew that something, that people were saying, "That's Carlos Hernandez." I got that feeling.");
Peso Chavez & James S. Liebman Notes on Interviews with Jon Kelly, Lawyer for Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 16, 18, 20, 2004) at 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 (describing his impression of Hernandez: "At times very pleasant. . . . Could be somewhat charming."; "Tough guy. Mexican. Let it be known he was tough. Nobody bothered him. If he chose to play pool in a Cantina, people moved away. They let him play."; "Carlos was not liked. Why? I imagine because he was dangerous. He was not the prince of peace. I enjoyed dealing with him. I treated him with respect. He did things for me. . . . I kind of like him."; "He wasn't a genius but he was good."; "Calls him [Carlos Hernandez] 'Carlito.'").
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Jon Kelly, Lawyer for Carlos Hernandez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 9, 2004) at 06:54:00:
I mean, if [Hernandez] intimated, I would end it immediately. I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to know about it, and so I didn't need to hear that story. So, if anything was said or was beginning to be said, I would end it. I never was inebriated where I would, you know or had enough to drink where I would allow something like that to be said around me. There was kind of a courtly relationship in terms of—I was the abogado You know? I was the lawyer. And yeah, I mean, you know, he wanted to tell his side or something. I might say, well, they're saying this about you, you know? I don't want to hear, but I think you might want to be aware that this is something that is being said. I remember telling him that a couple times. And, he would start to tell me his side and I would just say, that's it.")
Peso Chavez & James S. Liebman Notes on Interviews with Jon Kelly, Lawyer for Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 16, 18, 20, 2004) at 2, 4, 5, 8, 9 ("Carlos Her[n]andez: I don't know if he did it [killed Wanda Lopez]. 1st lesson I learned was never to ask if they did it."; "[When Carlos would say] Something had happened; he had some problems; I was in public, so I had to cut it off."; "I never asked what he had done but things came out about what Carlos had done. [One time] He said, 'I beat up his girlfriend' (explaining why someone was hostile to him in a cantina). He told me things. He would start to tell me. That led me to tell him to shut up."; "People say he bragged about things he did. If I could sense it wasn't a time to be around him, I would ask him to leave. He would leave. . . . I wouldn't let him brag."; "Sure, he [Carlos Hernandez] would've confessed to me. He started to confess to me, but I stopped him. . . . I'd rather not know. If I wanted to, he would've told me.").
See, e.g., Peso Chavez Notes on Interview with Michelle Garza, Friend of Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 28, 2004) at 1 ("During this period Carlos was in and out of prison [sic—probably jail]. She stated, 'I don't recall why he was in prison but I do recall one day he told me and Cindy [Maxwell] that he had killed a lady in a van. I had always thought he was just making it up until Cindy told me he had stabbed some other lady.'").
Sita Sovin & Lauren Eskenazi's Notes on Interview with Beatriz Castro, Neighbor of Fidela Hernandez (Oct. 23, 2004) at 2 (recalling that Hernandez admitted to Beatriz's son Ronnie that he (Hernandez) had killed Dahlia Sauceda);
Peso Chavez's Notes on Interview with Johnny Ybañez, Son of a Friend of Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 4, 2004) at 1–2 ("I remember one time he bragged about a girl that he had killed in a van—I don't recall names—but he said there was a little girl inside").
James S. Liebman's Notes on Interview with Pricilla Hernandez Jaramillo, Niece of Carlos Hernandez (Dec. 3, 2004) at 3 ("CH [Carlos Hernandez] spoke of killing a woman in a van. Him bragging saying he hurt someone. She was in a van. . . . C. [Carlos] Hernandez saying things like that. I'd run inside to my grandmother; when my mother came, I'd go with her. . . . It was a little girl [in the van]. 'Oh, my god.' [Pricilla] Cried. 'Getting chills all around me.' 'Numb. It was ugly,' (crying) she remembers.").
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Freddy Schilling, Brother-in-Law of Carlos Hernandez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 14:13:41–14:14:25 ("But before [Hernandez] did that, before we got into that fist fight, he's coming with the ax handle before I took the handle, and he says, 'I'm going to kick your ass. I'm going to kill you just like I killed that bitch of yours.' Just like that. Every time we got into a fight, he would always bring that up. . . . [He was talking about] Dahlia Sauceda. 'Just like I killed that bitch' . . . .");
Peso Chavez's Notes of Interview with Freddy Schilling, Brother-in-Law of Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 5, 2004) at 2 ("He [Carlos Hernandez] even told me he had killed her. When he was drunk and we would have a fight he would tell me 'I'm going to kill you just like I killed that fucking bitch Dahlia.'").
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Freddy Schilling, Brother-in-Law of Carlos Hernandez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 14:14:25–14:14:40 ("In fact, he confessed to my wife. He told my wife that he did it because he wanted to get her [Dahlia Sauceda] out of the way and he didn't want my wife to suffer any more, that that's the reason he did what he did.").
Sita Sovin & Lauren Eskenazi's Notes on Interview with Rita Hull, Friend of the Hernandez Family (Sept. 14, 2004) at 3 ("Carlos told Paula that he did Paula a favor by killing Dahlia who was having an affair with Freddy. Carlos said he sliced he[r] throat and put an X on her back. Paula told Rita that Carlos told her that. Carlos felt guilty for killing Louis [Sissamis] in th[e] car accident and was trying to make it up to Paula by killing Dahlia.");
Peso Chavez's Notes on Interview with John Michael Schilling, Nephew of Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 12, 2004) at 2 ("I do recall my mother telling me that Carlos [Hernandez] had carved an 'X' on someone's back.").
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Dina Ybañez, Neighbor of Carlos Hernandez (Dec. 7, 2004) at 03:35:40 ("Carlos was always bragging about things he did in the past. Like, when he hurt this girl called Dahlia.");
Peso Chavez's Notes on Interview with Dina Ybañez, Neighbor of Carlos Hernandez (June 14 and 15, 2004) at 2 ("I remember numerous times when Carlos Hernandez would be in the living room and he would make fun about how he killed the girl at the gas station and the one in the van. He would brag about how [Jesse] Garza and Carlos DeLuna—he would call Carlos his tocallo—were blamed for it and he was the one that had killed them");
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Dina Ybañez, Neighbor of Carlos Hernandez (Dec. 7, 2004) at 03:35:40–03:41:28:
Carlos was always bragging about things he did in the past. Like, when he hurt this girl called Dahlia. He stabbed her. And then somebody else was arrested for it. He was always bragging about the way he would do things. . . . Carlos mentioned about [a killing] that he did at a Circle K. And another one on a van. He killed her in front of a little girl. A baby. . . . And he was always bragging about things that he did, like stabbing people. He talked about two girls that he did. One of them was Dahlia. I don't know her last name or anything, but he was bragging about the way he stabbed her and he was going to, or, he put an X on her back. And that he had, Carlos killed her in front of her little girl. And that he thought about doing the little girl too, but he didn't.
Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Pedro Olivarez, Witness Against Jesse Garza in Trial for Murdering Dahlia Sauceda (Aug. 20, 2004, Mar. 1, 2005) at 1–2 ("After the Casino Club closed for the night Pedro and Jesse stepped outside the club. A brown van pulled up driven by Dahlia with a Hispanic male sitting in the front passenger seat (later to be identified as Carlos Hernandez). . . . Dahlia asked Carlos to get in the back of the van and Jesse sat next to Dahlia in the front passenger seat. Pedro got in the back of the van with Carlos and another Hispanic male . . . .").
Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Pedro Olivarez, Witness Against Jesse Garza in Trial for Murdering Dahlia Sauceda (Aug. 20, 2004, Mar. 1, 2005) at 2 ("Either the next day or the day after, Pedro heard that Dahlia had been murdered. Pedro knew from what Carlos had said as he and Jesse left the van that Carlos murdered Dahlia.").