For those close to Carlos DeLuna, the pain of his execution is still fresh. Carlos's sister Rose moved away from Corpus Christi and now lives in suburban Houston, where she works as an accountant for a software company.49 She has two children, a son and a daughter. Her son served as a Marine in Iraq, including six months in Fallujah during the worst part of the fighting there early in the second Iraq war.50 Rose avoids Corpus Christi, where the memories are too painful.51 She is an outspoken opponent of the death penalty.52
Wanda Lopez's family remains equally burdened by the tragedy. Her parents raised her daughter, who is now grown and has children of her own.53 Wanda's brother, Richard Vargas, still lives in Corpus Christi.54 He keeps a scrapbook on his sister and visits her grave from time to time.55 His anger toward Carlos DeLuna remains—for reasons that equally tormented Carlos as his execution approached:56 DeLuna had it within his power to expose Carlos Hernandez immediately, and he didn't. In June 2006, however, Richard issued a signed statement acknowledging the tragedy that befell the DeLuna family as well as his own. “After carefully reviewing the information recently uncovered and printed by Steve Mills and Maurice Possley in the Chicago Tribune,” Richard said, “I am convinced that Mr. DeLuna did not kill my sister and that Carlos Hernandez was the real murderer. . . . My heart goes out to Mr. Hernandez’s other victims and also to the DeLuna family, whose loss I share.”57
Eddie Garza continued to live in Corpus Christi until his death in 2007 at the age of 71. Upon his death, the Texas State Senate passed a resolution honoring him and recognizing his contributions to the Corpus Christi community.58
Carlos Hernandez's brother-in-law Freddie Schilling died in Corpus Christi the same year.59 He is survived by four children,60 three with Paula Hernandez,61 who died in 1994 of cervical cancer,62 and his step-daughter Pricilla.63 Pricilla still bears the horrific psychological scars of her uncle Carlos's sexually charged violence while both lived at Fidela's house on Carrizo Street.64 Neither Pricilla, nor most other members of the family, have anything to do with Fidela.65 The matriarch perhaps consoles herself with the knowledge that she correctly predicted the premature, often violent, deaths of four of her six children, and with the proceeds from the life insurance policies in which that prediction led her to invest.66
Ken Botary and Steve Schiwetz have both left the District Attorney's office, and each has his own private practice in Corpus Christi.67
After Carlos's execution, Karen Boudrie left Corpus Christi to work as a television anchor and reporter in Georgia, and then in New Orleans.68 She now runs a public relations and advertising company in Kenner, Louisiana.69
The execution of Carlos DeLuna had a profound effect on the life of Reverend Carroll Pickett. Then and after, he stood at the front lines of the death penalty and saw it for what it was. He looked into the eyes of men on the verge of death at the hands of the state for crimes he believed some did not commit.70 Prompted in part by Carlos DeLuna's unjust and probably tortuous execution,71 he came to believe this was not right. While working as the Death House chaplain, Pickett publicly maintained neutrality on the issue of the death penalty.72 Since leaving his position at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, he has become a staunch anti-death penalty activist.73 He has offered powerful stories from his personal experience to audiences around the country, as well as in his book, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain.74 Pickett was also the subject of an IFC documentary At the Death House Door, which told Reverend Pickett's story in part through that of Carlos DeLuna.75
* * * * *
Had things gone slightly differently, the story of Carlos DeLuna might never have come to light. He might have remained in the obscurity that deprived him during his life of any chance of proving his innocence—just one of 482 people put to death in Texas in the wake of its reinstatement of the death penalty in 1982.76 Central to DeLuna's obscurity was the failure of lawyers on the defense as well as the prosecution side to have the curiosity and gumption to look just an inch or two below the surface.77
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 19:44:14, 19:46:06 ("I'm 41 years old. I live in Houston, Tex. . . . I'm a staff accountant for Zephyr Development, a software company. And I've been there for the past seven and a half years.")
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 19:44:14, 19:45:28 ("[I have] 2 kids, a daughter that's 23 years old and a son that's 21 years old. . . . Our son was in Fallujah, the first time he went to Iraq for almost 6 months. And then he was stationed at Fallujah for another 6 months, almost 6 months, for a total of almost about a year in Iraq. And he's a Marine. He came home, he's 21 years old and he came home for a visit. And we had a wonderful visit with him. Wonderful, wonderful son. To be able to serve his country. And he's based back in Camp LeJeune and hopefully, he'll be home, back April 5.").
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at 21:20:34 ("I don't even like going to Corpus. I hate Corpus. I can't stand it. Every time we go to Corpus—if we have to go there for whatever reason—it just brings all that past memories. All I want to remember of Carlos is that moment when he hugged me and he said he loved me. I saw the peace in his face even though he was afraid, that peace in his heart. That's the reason why I don't even want to go back to Corpus and see that grave of my brother, because I know he should not be there. He should have never been executed, never.").
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Rose Rhoton, Sister of Carlos DeLuna, in Houston, Tex. (Feb. 26, 2005) at. 21:30:45:
I'm against Death Row. Not just because my brother was in Death Row, we're talking about a life. Executing someone, are you sure that that person committed such a crime? Are we sure? Can you prove it? Execution, I believe, is just totally wrong, even if my brother wasn't in the situation he was in. There should be something to be able to help both parties, to be able to prove this as far as—Even if it was proven that he or she did commit such a crime. Executing someone isn't going to bring anybody back. It's been done. I know both parties are mad, upset, not only the parents that lost the loved one, but also the other party. Their kids are in the situation that they're in. There has to be a better situation than executing, there has to be. I'm 100 percent against it.
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 4, 2004) at 6:40:39–6:41:44:
Q. And did Wanda have any children?
A. One. A little girl.
Q. What's her name?
A. [Name provided].
Q. And so that's your niece.
A. That's my niece. . . .
Q. So your parents were close to your niece.
A. Actually, they brought her up.
Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Richard Louis Vargas, Brother of Wanda Lopez (Nov. 21, 2004) at 4.
See supra Chapter 15, notes 202–205 and accompanying text.
Signed Statement of Louis Richard Vargas, Brother of Wanda Jean Vargas Lopez (June 2006):
On February 4, 1983, my sister Wanda Jean Vargas Lopez, was killed at a Diamond Shamrock in Corpus Christi, Texas. This senseless killing devastated our family and took the life of one of the most loving human beings we ever knew. At the time, I was assured by the authorities that a full investigation took place and proved that Carlos DeLuna was the killer.
After carefully reviewing the information uncovered and printed by Steve Mills and Maurice Possley in the Chicago Tribune, I am convinced that Mr. DeLuna did not kill my sister and that Carlos Hernandez was the real murderer. Because of an incomplete investigation by the authorities, the wrong man was executed, and Mr. Hernandez was permitted to go free and brutally hurt other innocent victims.
My heart goes out to Mr. Hernandez’s other victims and also to the DeLuna family whose loss I share. And I also want to say how grateful I am to the witnesses who have come forward to reveal the truth about who admitted killing my sister. My only hope is that my sister did not die in vain, and that as a result of this tragic injustice, the State of Texas will do whatever it takes to be sure no man is ever executed again for a crime he did not commit.
My family has now suffered twice through the devastating ordeal of my sister’s death. I have cooperated fully with the Chicago Tribune to bring the truth to light. Please direct all inquiries to my lawyer . . . .
Louis Richard Vargas
Tex. Senate Res. No. 386, In Memory of Edward S. Garza (Mar. 5, 2007).
Telephonic Interview with Gloria Sanchez (Jan. 24, 2012) (reporting that Freddie Schilling died in September 2007; information subsequently confirmed by investigative data-base search).
Peso Chavez's Notes on Interview with Freddy Schilling, Brother-in-Law of Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 5, 2004) at 3 ("I first met Paula when she was 16/17 years old. We had three children. Eduardo, who lives in Corpus Christi—I don't know where he lives. John Michael is in prison and Melissa (her name is now Julie Ann) gave her up for adoption.").
See supra Chapter 6, notes 62–63 and accompanying text.
See supra Chapter 8, notes 25–34 and accompanying text.
See, e.g., Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Johnny Arsuaga, Cousin of Carlos Hernandez and John Arsuaga (Nov. 3, 2004) at 2 (noting that many of Fidela's relatives want nothing to do with her);
Bruce Whitman's Notes on Interview with Pricilla Jaramillo, Niece of Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 9, 2004) at 1 (noting that Pricilla described Fidela as "crazy," and that living with her was "chaotic");
James S. Liebman's Notes on Interview with Pricilla Jaramillo, Niece of Carlos Hernandez (Dec. 3, 2004) at 1, 3 (noting that Pricilla described Fidela as unreliable and volatile, and further offering that Fidela was an inconsiderate caretaker);
Peso Chavez's Notes on Interview with John Michael Schilling, Nephew of Carlos Hernandez (Aug. 12, 2004) at 1 ("I can't even describe that woman [his grandmother Fidela Hernandez]. She's very bad—no good—she didn't like any of us.");
For Ken Botary, see Law Offices of Kenneth G. Botary, Yellow Pages Goes Green, http://www.yellowpagesgoesgreen.org/Corpus+Christi-TX/Law+Offices+Of+Kenneth+G+Botary/2004596 (last visited Mar. 30, 2012). For Steve Schiwetz, see Steve Schiwetz Law Offices, Yellow Pages, http://www.yellowpages.com/corpus-christi-tx/mip/steve-schiwetz-law-offices-15648527 (last visited Mar. 30, 2012).
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:22:20:
In 1983 I went to work for my first television job in Corpus Christi, Texas, at the CBS affiliate, KZTV. I worked there for a couple of years, then I moved to the NBC affiliate in Corpus Christi, Texas. So I was there [in Corpus Christi] for a total of six years, until 1989. Then I moved to Georgia to start up a television station in Georgia as the news director and main anchor there. And after a couple of years I moved to New Orleans to work at the FOX affiliate in New Orleans, where I worked on-air as an anchor and reporter for about nine and a half years. Then I got out of TV news and started my own public relations and advertising and video company, which I've been running for the past three years now. It's still in New Orleans, primarily.
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Karen Boudrie-Evers, Corpus Christi Television Reporter, in Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2005) at 01:22:20;
see http://www.powerprofiles.com/profile/00005151172146/BOUDRIE+COMMUNICATIONS+LLC-KENNER-LA (last visited Mar. 30, 2011) (profiling Boudrie Communications LLC in Kenner, Louisiana).
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:10:44:
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 . . . . I fully believe Carlos DeLuna was an innocent man, and I will always believe that.
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:49:58 ("Nobody ever knew where I stood. I couldn't tell an inmate, 'I'm in favor of it,' because he wouldn't talk to me. I couldn't tell the press, 'I'm against it,' because the warden would fire me. So I just stayed neutral, stayed neutral.").
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Carroll Pickett, Texas Death House Chaplain, in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 26, 2005) at 22:53:45, 22:54:55:
So I went [to a debate with Nueces County District Attorney, Carlos Valdez] to speak. There were four of us who spoke that day. And I had already completed my transformation into saying this [the death penalty] is wrong. It is wrong to kill people to show people that killing people is wrong. Partly because of the innocent being killed, partly because of people like Carlos, who was just a kid that I think was innocent, but he was young anyway, mentally retarded, socially retarded, educationally retarded.
Rev. Carroll Pickett with Carlton Stowers, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain (2002).
At the Death House Door (Independent Film Channel 2008), http://kartemquin.com/films/at-the-death-house-door.
Tex. Dep't of Crim. Just., Executed Offenders, http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/death_row/dr_executed_offenders.html (last visited Mar. 30, 2012).
See generally supra Chapters 11–15