HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 9
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Chapter 9

Mistaken Identity

Eddie Garza left the Air Force and joined the Corpus Christi Police Department in 1964. After several years as a patrolman, he became a sergeant with the Criminal Investigations Division in 1970, working theft and burglary, then major crimes and homicide.1

As Garza told the out-of-town investigators, he had learned in his years on the beat and as a detective that a cop doing investigations "[is] only as good as [his] informants."2

"You don't get it out all on your own," he explained. You have to develop rapport in the community, find people who trust you to help them when they need it and not get them in trouble when they help you with information.3

By 1983, Eddie Garza had developed a strong network of informants.4 After working hundreds of cases and making many arrests, he also had a good mental list of who in the community was capable of what kinds of crimes.5 A teenager in the Hispanic community could hardly steal a pack of cigarettes in Corpus without Eddie Garza hearing about it.6

* * * * *

Within a few weeks of the Wanda Lopez murder, Garza began to hear from his informants about it, and they were all naming the same person.7 It was a name Garza and his colleagues in the Department knew well, but not the name of the man they had arrested and charged with capital murder.8

Word was that Carlos Hernandez was boasting on the street that he had killed Wanda Lopez and had gotten someone else to take the fall.9

Garza wasn't surprised. The long-time cop had known Hernandez since he was a kid, and had arrested him several times.10 Hernandez was always getting into trouble.11 He was always getting into fights, especially near his house on Carrizo Street.12

Decades after the fact, Garza immediately remembered Hernandez's crime of choice ("assaulting women"), his weapon of choice ("a buck knife" with "a retraction button at the rear of the deal" to unlock the blade), and especially his "look."13 It was the look of a "cold, cold person," Garza vividly recalled, who "could stare straight through you"—a "frightening, mean look" that made you "feel a threat there."14

* * * * *

By 1983, Carlos Hernandez believed he could beat almost any rap,15 and he pretty much did.

Of course, he had several convictions under his belt—negligent homicide in 1970, a grand theft and three armed robberies in 1972.16 Somehow, though, he'd gotten off with only probation in the 1970 case17 and served only five years for the four 1972 offenses combined.18

In late 1979, less than two years after returning to Corpus Christi on parole, Hernandez's fingerprint and boxer shorts were found in the back of a van with Dahlia Sauceda's battered body.19 For that one, however, he wasn't even charged with murder at the time, let alone convicted.20 He had reason to think he couldn't be touched.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:01:33–00:03:35:

[M]y name is Edward S. Garza. . . . I'm a resident of Corpus Christi, Texas, I've lived here, was raised here and born here in Corpus, Nueces [County], Texas. Went through the public school system here, attended Miller high school, where I graduated, and I was in the Army reserves, then I was full time in the Air Force. After getting out of the Air Force back in 1960 I started working for the city of Corpus Christi and later on in '64 I was employed by the Corpus Christi police department, where I retired from service in 1988. I worked in numerous jobs. I worked in patrol for ten years, where I established a good rapport with the citizens of Corpus Christi, and I had many friends, many informants, and later on in 1970, I believe, I was promoted to Sergeant and I went to work in the criminal investigation division, where I was working in the burglary division, theft division, auto theft, and later on went and worked on several homicides and then I was assigned to the major crimes division, where we handle all unsolved murders and different types of crimes that were committed. . . . [I] was a sergeant and . . . was assigned to the major crimes division of the Corpus Christi police department.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:18:07–00:19:12 ("I knew Carlos Hernandez ever since he was a juvenile because I arrested him many times. And he lived around the Carrizo-Laredo Street area. And he was always involved in some type of crime . . . . He was always getting involved in fights within the area.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:17:16–00:19:12.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:18:07–00:19:12 ("I knew Carlos Hernandez ever since he was a juvenile because I arrested him many times. And he lived around the Carrizo-Laredo Street area. . . . He was always getting involved in fights within the area.");

Bruce Whitman & James S. Liebman's Notes on Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective (Aug. 25, 2004) at 2 ("CH [Carlos Hernandez] was bad ass. Terror of neighborhood. Everyone was afraid of him. He ha[d] people beat the crap out of [other] people, or he would do it. They looked to him as a leader.");

see supra Chapter 6, notes 90–92, 103–104, 118–120, 156, 193–195, 203, 220–221 and accompanying text; Chapter 8, notes 17–18 and accompanying text.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:30:55–00:32:20:

Q. Mr. Garza, your experience with Carlos Hernandez: What type of crimes did he commit?

A. Carlos Hernandez was almost always assaulting women and assaulting guys. And his weapon of choice was a knife. He always had a knife on him. And most of the time it was cutting up people or hitting them with a beer bottle or something. But he was always involved in mostly violent crimes.

Q. Do you have any recollection of the type of weapon, what type of knife he used?

A. The type of knife was a sort of . . . I arrested him one time and the knife that he had was a regular, like a buck knife, you would say. It's a buck knife, and then it has a retraction button at the rear of the deal which it sets on top. You push that button then you pull the blade and it locks. The blade will lock.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 01:43:20–01:44:45:

Carlos Hernandez, you would look at the guy, and you look straight in his eyes and you could see that cold, cold person, like he could stare straight through you. And it was a sort of a frightening, mean look that Carlos Hernandez had. . . . You can tell a person, when a person has meanness and a person is violent, you can see it right straight in the eyes. I handled many, many criminals, and you get a cold feeling when you look at a person like that that has a sordid stare. . . . You look at Carlos Hernandez and you look at him straight in the eye, you kind of feel a threat there. . . .

Bruce Whitman & James S. Liebman's Notes on Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective (Aug. 25, 2004) at 2 ("If anyone was violent or mean, it was Carlos Hernandez. He would stare right through you; cold; no feelings.").

Sita Sovin & Lauren Eskenazi's Notes on Interview with Pricilla Hernandez Jaramillo, Niece of Carlos Hernandez (Sept. 16, 2004) ("CH [Carlos Hernandez] always carried a knife. He thought he was "a certain kind of bully—he thought he was untouchable.").

See supra Chapter 6, notes 144–149, 164–171 and accompanying text.

Juvenile Record for Carlos Hernandez (Case No. 9699), Corpus Christi Police Department (March 21, 1971) at 1:

Referral 1–22–71: The call sheet indicates that, on the marginal date, Carlos Hernandez, Jr. was referred on a charge of negligent homicide. The call sheet indicates that he had been picked up on a warrant 5536 issued out of JP Court by Judge Cantu for the aforementioned offense. Official reports and subject questioning indicates that Carlos had been driving the automobile of his sister's boyfriend. The boy-friend was on the far right side, the sister of Hernandez was in the middle. The accident ensued and the boyfriend, was killed, the sister was injured. . . . Court Hearing and Disposition 2–11–71: . . . Carlos gave an account of the incident and Judge Martineau agreed to follow the recommendations of this department by placing the boy on official probation for an indefinite period of time.

See supra Chapter 6, notes 148–149 and accompanying text.

See Texas Dep't of Criminal Justice, Bd. of Pardons and Parole, Certificate of Parole for Carlos Hernandez (Dec. 7, 1977) ("Parole Release Effective January 4, 1978");

supra Chapter 6, notes 171–172 and accompanying text.

See supra Chapter 7, notes 20–43, 88–90 and accompanying text; see also James S. Liebman's Notes on Interview with Paul Rivera, Corpus Christi Police Detective (July 14, 2004) at 1:

In jail, an attorney came along with an investigator related to [Jesse] Garza helping [out]. (This is Eddie Cruz.) Was told to check Carlos Hernandez. Rivera went and checked his prints and they matched the prints in the van on one beer can. Hernandez became a suspect and was picked up on a warrant. During the interview, he had the same type and size of underwear found in the van. Same type of underwear in his home. With the underwear and the fingerprint in the van, it was enough to get a warrant.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:04:19–00:05:20:

Q. You mention that you had informants, people you worked with on the street during your career.

A. I had developed a good rapport with the community and several criminals that later on I turned them to be informants of mine because without a good informant . . . you're only as good as your informant is, as a police officer, especially in investigations. You don't get it out all on your own, you have to have people that rely on you helping them on some issues that they have, and they also recognize you as a person that is going to not reveal the name of the source of the information that you get.

See supra Chapter 7, notes 39–46 and accompanying text.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:04:29–00:05:20 ("You don't get it out all on your own, you have to have people that rely on you helping them on some issues that they have, and they also recognize you as a person that is going to not reveal the name of the source of the information that you get.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview of Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 5, 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 area [where they would patrol], 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 00:03:35–00:04:19, 00:38:57–00:40:37 (noting that, from 1970 to 1988, he was involved in investigating "between one to two, two hundred and fifty cases . . . dealing with aggravated assault, murders, suicides" and other major crimes).

See Peso Chavez & James S. Liebman's Notes on Interviews with Jon Kelly, Lawyer for Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 16, 18, 20, 2004) at 2 (describing Eddie Garza and his partner Paul Rivera as "the top homicide investigators" in Corpus).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:08:47–00:13:37:

A. I had other information as to another suspect that probably was involved in the crime itself.

Q. Who was that other individual?

A. That other individual was Carlos Hernandez, the one that I felt was the one that had committed this particular crime.

Q. And when did you begin to feel that Carlos Hernandez had committed the crime?

A. From information that I had received from other informants that Carlos DeLuna, the person that was convicted of the crime, had not done this particular crime. He was arrested, yes, he was arrested by a constable. . . . But, later on, like I said, I developed information as to Carlos Hernandez being a person that had actually committed this crime.

Q. When did you develop that information, Mr. Garza?

A. It was a few weeks after the crime had been committed and Carlos DeLuna had been arrested and charged with capital murder in regards to this case. The information that we got, that Carlos Hernandez had gotten someone else to take a fall for him in regards to this crime. And the evidence that was collected at the scene did not, did not prove that Carlos DeLuna had actually committed this crime.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:14:25–00:15:44:

Q. When the [Wanda Lopez] crime occurred, you indicated that you, soon after the homicide was committed, became aware of an individual who, you were told, through informants, had committed the crime. As I recall, that person was Carlos Hernandez. Again, when did you become aware of Carlos Hernandez and who made you aware of Carlos Hernandez?

A. Approximately two or three weeks [after the killing]. There was talk from a couple of my informants that the person that they had arrested for this particular crime was not the person that had committed the crime. The person that had actually committed the crime was Carlos Hernandez, and Carlos DeLuna was the person that was being held for the crime itself. And these informants, like I said, relied on information that they had received by talking to some of the people that they congregate with in the streets.

Steve Mills & Maurice Possley, The Secret That Wasn't, Violent Felon Bragged that He Was Real Killer,Chi. Trib., June 27, 2006, available at http://www.chicagotribune.com/services/newspaper/eedition/chi-tx-3-story,0,761635.htmlstory :

And one of Corpus Christi's senior detectives at the time of the crime now says he believes De Luna was wrongly executed. The former detective, Eddie Garza, said tipsters told him that Hernandez killed Lopez, the mother of a 6-year-old girl. Yet it appears those tips were not pursued.

While some in Corpus Christi kept silent about Hernandez, others apparently did not.

Garza, a detective at the time, recalled getting tips just days after De Luna was arrested that someone else was talking about how he had stabbed the gas station clerk.

"We were getting information that Carlos Hernandez was the one that had done the case," said Garza, who now is a private investigator. "Several people were telling us that."

Garza says he passed along the information to the detective leading the investigation, Olivia Escobedo.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:22:43–00:23:30, 00:24:04–00:24:15:

Q. Mr. Garza, you are familiar with Carlos Hernandez when he was a young man. Is that correct?

A. Yes, I arrested him several times for several crimes: petty theft crimes and little assault cases and stuff. He was always getting involved in some type of crime or another. The guy had an arrest record—unbelievable. And he had been arrested numerous times for different types of crimes. . . .

Q. Did the criminal investigation division, were they aware of Carlos Hernandez? A. Myself and my partners, we were well aware of Carlos Hernandez and what he was capable of doing.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:10:11–00:13:37 ("From information that I had received from other informants that Carlos DeLuna, the person that was [arrested for] the crime, had not done this particular crime. He was arrested, yes . . . . But, later on . . . I developed information as to Carlos Hernandez being a person that had actually committed this crime. . . . The information that we got [was] that Carlos Hernandez had gotten someone else to take a fall for him in regards to this crime.").

Chapter 9
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