Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man? New Evidence Says Yes

A few years ago, a groundbreaking story in The New Yorker revealed that Cameron Todd Willingham, a Texas man accused of arson, may have been sent to his death an innocent man.

Now a new book by a professor-student team of legal experts from the Columbia Human Rights Law Review --who have worked on this investigation for six years--reveals that another almost certainly innocent man,Carlos DeLuna, was executed by the Lone Star State. In fact, their evidence eerily points to the fact that another violent man who shared his name and physical description was the criminal.

From the team's description of their project. Los Tocayos Carlos:

Based on one of the most thorough investigations of a criminal case in U.S. history, the groundbreaking article by Columbia Law School Professor James Liebman and a team of students uncovers evidence that Carlos DeLuna, a poor Hispanic man with childlike intelligence who was executed in Texas in 1989, was innocent. 

The Guardian has a great storydetailing the investigation by the group from Columbia. Carlos Hernandez, whom the investigation pinpoint as the real killer, a person whose existence was denied by the authorities during the trial of Carlos DeLuna, wasn't even secretive about his own involvement in the crime: 

Hernandez himself frequently told people that he was a knife murderer. He made numerous confessions to having killed Wanda Lopez, the crime for which DeLuna was executed, joking with friends and relatives that his "tocayo" had taken the fall. His admissions were so widely broadcast that even Corpus Christi police detectives came to hear about them within weeks of the incident at the Shamrock gas station.

Yet this was the same Carlos Hernandez who prosecutors told the jury did not exist. This was the figment of Carlos DeLuna's imagination.

Many other glaring discrepancies also stand out in the DeLuna case. He was put on death row largely on the eyewitness testimony of one man, Kevan Baker, who had seen the fight inside the Shamrock and watched the attacker flee the scene. Yet when Baker was interviewed 20 years later, he said that he hadn't been that sure about the identification as he had trouble telling one Hispanic person apart from another.

Read the full story at the Guardian and check out the work of the team--including heartbreaking video interviews--at their website.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at May 15, 2012, 5:49am

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018