We feel for this case because we covered a number of exonerees here at AT2W last year and Carlos De Luna was one of them.
At that time we wrote:
Evidence that came to light in 2006 suggesting that DeLuna was executed for murder because of a case of mistaken identity. He died by lethal injection in Texas in 1989 for a 1983 stabbing that he maintains was committed by another man who he directly named, but was never investigated. The Chicago Tribune did a follow up investigation focusing on the family of the man named by the victim, Carlos Hernandez, also revealing other facts that made the prosecuting attorney question the ruling. Hernandez died in 1999, but reportedly repeatedly bragged about the fact that another man went to death row for his crimes to his relatives. Texas has executed almost a third of the people condemned to death in the United States since 1982. [ Source]
So, now they know exactly who committed those crimes and as we can see here’s another victim of wrongfully executed injustice. Both men are deceased now but what can we do about this justice system that does not take time to really investigate the crimes committed? We also know that it was in the 1980′s that many Black and Latino men were wrongfully accused and convicted of countless crimes. It was an era where it appeared that our justice system, prosecutors and police officers did not care about them and were some were racially bias.
Read below the update on the story:
He looked similar, and was nearby – and that was enough for Texas to send an innocent man to his death, a law professor has claimed.
Carlos De Luna was executed in 1989 for stabbing to death a gas station clerk in the coastal town of Corpus Christi six years earlier.
But a damning dossier of evidence could prove a tragic case of mistaken identity led to Texas giving a lethal injection to the wrong man.
Prosecutors and police ignored tips unearthed in the case files that Carlos Hernandez (right), an older friend of De Luna (left), had killed Lopez
The 400-page report was published by a team from Columbia University, led by Professor James Liebmant, and published in the Human Rights Law Review.
It concluded De Luna paid with his life for a crime he probably didn’t commit. Shoddy police work, the prosecution failing to pursue another suspect, and a weak defense combined to send De Luna to death row, they argued.
Prof Liebmant told The Huffington Post: ‘I would say that across the board, there was nonchalance. It looked like a common case, but we found that there was a very serious claim of innocence.’
Though Carlos De Luna’s record of numerous arrests for burglary and public drunkenness, plus a conviction for attempted rape and auto theft, it seemed like police had their man.
But the Columbia team’s report found:
- The eyewitness statements actually conflict with each other. What witnesses said about the appearance and location of the suspect suggest that they were describing more than one person.
- Photos of a bloody footprint and blood spatter on the walls suggest the killer would have had blood on his shoes and pant legs, yet De Luna’s clothes were clean.
- Prosecutors and police ignored tips unearthed in the case files that Carlos Hernandez, an older friend of De Luna, who had a reputation for wielding a blade, had killed Lopez. The defence failed to track down Hernandez, who bore a striking resemblance to De Luna.