Innocent man executed in Texas

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Texas Death Chamber Read more at http://www.madmikesamerica.com

Texas is the buckle of the Bible Belt, and also the state with the most executions.  After all Jesus and Justice go hand in hand right?  Wrong.  An innocent man was executed in 1989 making all of us wonder how many that makes for the lone star state.  The fact is all the flaws that were present in the criminal justice system then are present today, and if not corrected more innocent people will die at the hands of the state.

He was the spitting image of the killer, had the same first name and was near the scene of the crime at the fateful hour: Carlos DeLuna paid the ultimate price and was executed in place of someone else in Texas in 1989, a report out Tuesday found.

Even “all the relatives of both Carloses mistook them,” and DeLuna was sentenced to death and executed based only on eyewitness accounts despite a range of signs he was not a guilty man, said law professor James Liebman.

Liebman and five of his students at Columbia School of Law spent almost five years poring over details of a case that he says is “emblematic” of legal system failure.

DeLuna, 27, was put to death after “a very incomplete investigation. No question that the investigation is a failure,” Liebman said.

The report’s authors found “numerous missteps, missed clues and missed opportunities that let authorities prosecute Carlos DeLuna for the crime of murder, despite evidence not only that he did not commit the crime but that another individual, Carlos Hernandez, did,” the 780-page investigation found.

The report, entitled “Los Tocayos Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution,” traces the facts surrounding the February 1983 murder of Wanda Lopez, a single mother who was stabbed in the gas station where she worked in a quiet corner of the Texas coastal city of Corpus Christi.

“Everything went wrong in this case,” Liebman said.

That night Lopez called police for help twice to protect her from an individual with a switchblade.

“They could have saved her, they said ‘we made this arrest immediately’ to overcome the embarrassment,” Liebman said.

Forty minutes after the crime Carlos DeLuna was arrested not far from the gas station.

He was identified by only one eyewitness who saw a Hispanic male running from the gas station. But DeLuna had just shaved and was wearing a white dress shirt — unlike the killer, who an eyewitness said had a mustache and was wearing a grey flannel shirt.

Even though witnesses accounts were contradictory — the killer was seen fleeing towards the north, while DeLuna was caught in the east — DeLuna was arrested.

“I didn’t do it, but I know who did,” DeLuna said at the time, saying that he saw Carlos Hernandez entering the service station.

DeLuna said he ran from police because he was on parole and had been drinking.

Hernandez, known for using a blade in his attacks, was later jailed for murdering a woman with the same knife. But in the trial, the lead prosecutor told the jury that Hernandez was nothing but a “phantom” of DeLuna’s imagination.

DeLuna’s budget attorney even said that it was probable that Carlos Hernandez never existed.

However in 1986 a local newspaper published a photograph of Hernandez in an article on the DeLuna case, Liebman said.

Following hasty trial DeLuna was executed by lethal injection in 1989.

Up to the day he died in prison of cirrhosis of the liver, Hernandez repeatedly admitted to murdering Wanda Lopez, Liebman said.

Did you know that the United States is the only country in the Western World that still executes offenders?  Did you know that it costs more to execute someone than it does to imprison them for life?  The death penalty does not deter crime, it is revenge, pure and simple.

Thanks to YahooNews for parts of this story.

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About Post Author

Michael John Scott

Mr. Scott is a political junkie, and animal lover. He is also a U.S. Army veteran, career law enforcement executive, and university professor. Did I mention he loves dogs? A lot?
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9 years ago

What a good deal!He has a nice sum of money put away.It sounds great!Is it okay to smoke in the office?She has been collecting stamps.I guess I could come overDoes she like ice-cream? What we read influences our thinking.What does she like? He appears to be your friend but I doubt if he is.

Bill Formby
10 years ago

Mike, you just wrote about a case where they focused on one guy to the exclusion of all others and you saw what happened. Furthermore Mike research has shown that photo arrays, especially when used by the investigating officers are notoriously biased. (http://www.clickorlando.com/news/Proposed-Law-Would-Change-Police-Photo-Lineups/-/1637132/1940616/-/lbumjk/-/index.html). Most police departments that are truly trying to keep things above board are using single photos shown one at a time to witnesses by police personnel not involved in the investigation. The results in true positive identifications is increased by as much as 50%. You are right Mike. Not all eyewitnesses are tainted, biased are wrong. They are right in about 50% of the cases where the offender and the witness are of the same race and have no previous acquaintance and the witness had a clear view of the offender for more than a few seconds.
You are also right that it isn’t most police officers who will grab the first person they see and pin it on them, but how many does it take to get an innocent man executed. Police, as a group are like anyone else, D.A’s, Defense Attorneys, Judges, corrections officers, etc. The vast majority do their best to do a good job but they all had their small percentage of screw ups. Every cusses cops and defense attorneys until they need one then they can’t find one quick enough, and neither of them respond quick enough or work fast enough. I know. I have worked for both places and have been cussed in both places.

Bill Formby
10 years ago

Mike, I don’t when the idiots in this country are going to wake up to this stupid practice. I know you will disagree with me when I say that police need to ignore public pressure and do their jobs correctly. With all the research we have on the lack of reliability of eyewitness testimony police still jump at it like it is the golden goose. They still use photo arrays and push the envelop as far as they can because in some cases they want to catch the guy more than they want to make sure its the right guy. Then you have the knuckle heads who are the prosecutors who care less if they have the right person or not, they just want convictions and to win elections. Judges sit on these cases and lean so far toward the state’s case that they need a prop to keep them from falling out of their chair. Truth be known, there are probably many more of these cases that have occurred than we want to think about or acknowledge.

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