"I didn't do it, but I know who did."1 From the moment that Officer Mark Schauer and other cops pulled Carlos DeLuna out from under the truck on Franklin Street—wet, agitated and smelling of beer2—to the moment of his execution, his claim remained the same. He didn't do it, but he knew who did. "I'll help you," he told Schauer, "if you help me."3
Contrary to the prosecution's argument at trial, Carlos DeLuna's claim was no eleventh-hour creation. Though it took him five months to overcome his fear of Carlos Hernandez's well-documented violence against anyone who might expose his crimes,4 DeLuna never wavered. "I didn't do it, but I know who did." Carlos said the same thing to his family,5 friends,6 lawyers,7 prosecutors (whom he begged to give him a lie detector test),8 and any member of the media who would listen.9 He was innocent, and he knew who the real murderer was.
After his conviction, Carlos continued to insist he was innocent and that Hernandez was the killer.10 On death row, in a series of interviews and correspondence with news reporter Karen Boudrie and others, DeLuna insisted he was innocent and identified Hernandez as the culprit.11 An hour before his execution, Carlos called Boudrie in Cincinnati, his final conversation with anyone outside the death chamber. With nothing left to lose, he said it again: Texas was about to execute an innocent man.12
As Reverend Carroll Pickett had done for thirty-two death row inmates before Carlos DeLuna and would do for sixty-two more after him, the Death House Chaplain organized the last day of DeLuna's life around a central objective: unburdening the condemned prisoner of the truth as he prepared to meet his Maker.13 Even before Carlos arrived, Pickett believed he had a simple soul on his hands, with an instinct to hide under cars (and, previously, a bed and bushes) rather than to run away from police.14 When the prison-hardened minister, who'd seen it all before, encountered a twenty-seven-year-old with the demeanor and thought processes of a boy, who called Pickett "daddy," feared needles, and wanted his hand to be held through the execution, the "Death Angel" was confident he could elicit a soul-baring confession in response to two questions he'd carefully prepared.15 Why did Carlos hide under a pick-up truck, and why did he let the store clerk call the police? Carlos confessed other misdeeds, but his answer to Pickett's questions was simple and direct. "I didn't do it."16
Strapped to the gurney, with Reverend Pickett's hand on his knee and only seconds to go before his death, Carlos still maintained his innocence. His final words forgave those who accused him and urged other innocent men on the Row to keep fighting.17 Carlos DeLuna never wavered. He did not kill Wanda Lopez, but he knew who did.
* * * * *
There was another player in the case who was equally adamant and consistent on the same point: Carlos Hernandez himself. Although his namesake Carlos DeLuna took the blame for the crime, Hernandez confessed again and again that it was he, and not DeLuna, who killed Wanda Lopez.
Hernandez proudly admitted this to his family and neighbors on Carrizo Street in the days following the killing.18 He broadcast his admission widely enough for Detective Eddie Garza to learn about it from informants within weeks of the killing.19 And well before DeLuna produced the name in July 1983, Carlos Gonzalez Hernandez was of sufficient interest to the police officers and prosecutors handling the Wanda Lopez murder that they brought the man in on what looks like a pretext to check out his "major case" fingerprints and rap sheet after he was arrested behind a 7-Eleven with a knife in April 1983.20
See supra Chapter 3, notes 129–131 and accompanying text.
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:30:50–01:31:35 ("Every time I talked to Carlos, and in every letter, he talked about how his life had gone astray but he always denied committing this crime.");
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:25:30 ("I said, 'Carlos, is there anything you want to tell me? Do you want to tell me anything about what really happened?' He said, 'No, they're putting to death an innocent man.' And I think at that point it really hit me that maybe they were. He had nothing to lose at this point.").
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:45:38–22:11:40:
And I asked him [Carlos DeLuna], did he want . . . to tell [me] the truth. He said, "Sure." I did them all that way. . . . "Go ahead, I want to know the whole story." He said, "I'm not so much afraid of dying, it's how, and what's going to happen after that." So I explained it all to him. And then he said, "Can we talk privately?" So we began to talk privately. And many of the convicts, between 10:15 and midnight, confessed to a lot of things for which they were not convicted. I began in the beginning saying some of them are just bragging. I began to check them out with friends of mine, without telling them. They were true. There was a lot of confession. At ten o'clock to midnight is a very traumatic situation. I went to my doctor, and he told me, "One of these days you're going to pay for all this, because you're taking in a lot of stuff you can't get out." And he was a cardiologist in Victoria. And I may be, right now, in that position at this very minute [given the heart trouble Pickett was suffering at the time of the interview]. But Carlos wanted to talk about it, and we discussed those two issues: Why did you let her [the victim] talk on the phone? And why did you stay [under] the truck? And he said, "I didn't do it." That's as clear as a bell to me. . . . And I believed him. . . . In my opinion, having watched ninety-five die in the execution chamber—I watched hundreds that died—because we had the hospital. We had an intensive care. We had a Death Row in the hospital. The third floor, I had a hundred people that died over there from heart attacks, C.O.P.D., AIDS, cancer, you name it. And I went through this for sixteen years, listening to them on their last days and nights. I spent way too many hours, I suppose, listening to their last confession. But some of them I believed. And some of them I checked out, and they were innocent people. I fully believe Carlos DeLuna was an innocent man, and I will always believe that."
See supra Chapter 16, notes 186–193 and accompanying text.
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:19:01–22:22:08 ("But Carlos and I practiced what he was going to say. If you notice the real words, Carlos never admitted to the crime. He did not apologize or ask forgiveness from the family of who was killed. His concern was for his family. He was concerned for the friends he had on Death Row. One of his last words, which are very, very important, 'Don't give up.' Because many of them are striving to prove their innocence. 120, I believe it is, in America, have been taken off Death Row in the last three years or four years, who were found to be innocent. I believe Carlos was one of those.");
see supra Chapter 16, notes 241–248 and accompanying text.
See supra Chapter 2, note 254–256 and accompanying text.
See supra Chapter 9, notes 73–90 and accompanying text.
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Vicky Gutierrez, Half-Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 00:23:17 ("When I would go visit him in jail, he would say that he didn't do it. He was always saying he didn't do it. That they were going to execute him. That's all he would say, he said that he didn't do it.");
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 20:32:36 ("He told me he didn't do it. I asked him, 'Carlos, did you do this?' I asked him when he was in Death Row. I asked him, 'Did you do this?' He said, 'No, I didn't do it. If you would just go to Corpus, this is where this guy lives. His name is Carlos Hernandez.' He committed the crime.");
Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Manuel DeLuna, Brother of Carlos DeLuna (Aug. 11, 2004) at 1 ("I just wanted to know if he did kill that girl? His response to me was, no I didn't.");
See, e.g., Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rosie Esquivel, Girlfriend of Carlos DeLuna While He Was on Death Row, in Garland, Texas (Feb. 27, 2005) at 23:55:34 ("Usually if someone does kill someone they usually end up bragging to someone else, and Carlos never did that. He maintained until the end, when he was executed, that he was innocent. And they should have listened to him. They treated his case unfairly. It was unjustified, what they did.");
see also supra Chapter 16, notes 5–16 and accompanying text.
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Hector De Peña Jr., Trial Lawyer for Carlos DeLuna, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Feb. 23, 2005) at 12:06:40, 12:12:18, 12:12:44 ("We tried, with a great deal of diligence, to try and get that information from him [Carlos DeLuna], because we felt it was important in terms of his defense as to whether or not he was actually involved or not involved. . . . But he would never reveal it, basically indicating to us, ultimately, that if he did reveal it he wouldn't be safe either outside the penitentiary or in the penitentiary. . . . He was adamant that he was not guilty and he wanted his day in court. . . . He was adamant that he was not involved in the girl's killing.");
Transcript of Karen Boudrie-Evers's TV Reports on DeLuna/Lopez Case (1984–85) at 00:02:32 ([quoting DeLuna:] "When I had my turn in court, I offered to take a lie-detector test or any kind of test the district attorney wanted. Mr. Steve Schiwetz, the district attorney, refused. . . .");
see supra Chapter 12, notes 1–3 and accompanying text; supra Chapter 13, notes 208–211, 221–223 and accompanying text; supra Chapter 15, notes 318–321 and accompanying text (all discussing the prosecutors' awareness of DeLuna's claim of innocence and his request, evidently declined by prosecutor Steven Schiwetz, to take a lie detector test).
See, e.g., Transcript of Karen Boudrie-Evers's TV Reports on DeLuna/Lopez Case (1984–85) at 02:09–02:32 (quoted supra Chapter 15, notes 311–323 [need number] and accompanying text);
Linda Carrico, DeLuna Is Scheduled to Be Executed Tomorrow,Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Oct. 14, 1986, at B1:
Death Row inmate Carlos DeLuna contends he will die for a crime he did not commit if he is executed for the 1983 fatal shooting of a Corpus Christi service station clerk. . . .
DeLuna, now 24, maintains he is innocent even though a jury found him guilty of Ms. Lopez's death and two appeals courts upheld that conviction and death sentence.
In a Caller interview, DeLuna said he was arrested because he was in the area and authorities needed a suspect. DeLuna claimed he was across the street and saw the killing, but walked away without reporting what he saw. "I knew since I had been convicted before in Dallas County they would pin this one on me," DeLuna said. . . . DeLuna claims he is a victim of mistaken identity. He said a friend, Carlos Hernandez killed the clerk but authorities refuse to believe him.
DeLuna Executed for the 1983 Robbery-Slaying of Woman, Galveston Daily News, Dec. 8, 1989, at A11 ("Convicted killer Carlos DeLuna, saying he had no hate and professing support for his fellow death row inmates, was executed early Thursday for the 1983 Robbery-Slaying of a Corpus Christi Woman. . . . DeLuna had insisted all along that he was not responsible for the death of Wanda Jean Lopez, 24"); Cindy Tumiel, Convicted Killer Executed After Court Rejects Appeals, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Dec. 7, 1989, at B1 ("Carlos DeLuna was put to death early today for the robbery and slaying of a Corpus Christi service station attendant . . . . DeLuna has continued to maintain his innocence, claiming that the murder was committed by a friend named Carlos Hernandez.");
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:30:50 ("Every time I talked to Carlos, and in every letter, he talked about how his life had gone astray but he always denied committing this crime.");
James S. Liebman's Notes on Interview with Linda Carrico, Corpus Christi Newspaper Reporter (Sept. 2004) at 1 ("One issue I was interested in was death sentences imposed in Corpus Christi. I set up an appointment to interview the CC inmates on death row. Most of the time these people had never testified at trial, so I wanted to interview them. I would get permission from the prison, but most of the time the inmate wouldn't come out and talk to me. One of the few to come out and talk to me was Carlos DeLuna.");