The Guardian has an excellent article about a Texas capital punishment case involving a wrongful conviction, switched identities, an unsolved murder, evidence not tested for DNA, sloppy police procedures and an execution.
“Carlos DeLuna was arrested, aged 20, on 4 February 1983 for the brutal murder of a young woman, Wanda Lopez. She had been stabbed once through the left breast with an 8in lock-blade buck knife which had cut an artery causing her to bleed to death.
From the moment of his arrest until the day of his death by lethal injection six years later, DeLuna consistently protested he was innocent. He went further – he said that though he hadn’t committed the murder, he knew who had. He even named the culprit: a notoriously violent criminal called Carlos Hernandez.
At the trial, DeLuna’s defence team told the jury that Carlos Hernandez, not DeLuna, was the murderer. But the prosecutors ridiculed that suggestion. They told the jury that police had looked for a “Carlos Hernandez” after his name had been passed to them by DeLuna’s lawyers, without success. They had concluded that Hernandez was a fabrication, a “phantom” who simply did not exist. The chief prosecutor said in summing up that Hernandez was a “figment of DeLuna’s imagination.”
Years later, Professor Liebman asked a private investigator to spend just one day investigating the case to see whether a man called Carlos Hernandez could be found. The PI took the challenge and guess what, Carlos Hernandez did indeed exist.
If this case interests you, check out this website where you can read everything about the case, the book, and the players. It has a timeline, pictures, interviews and references.
To show you an example of the sloppy police work in this case, I post here a picture from the Guardian. Their subtitle is: “Police detective Escobedo, who headed the investigation, standing on evidence at the crime scene. Within two hours, the Shamrock had been cleaned up. Photograph: Corpus Christi police department.” Note that she is not wearing any protective covering on her boots …
The prosecution denied it, the cops denied it, but a PI did find this elusive man. Of course, this made me think about Robert Foster. The police lied about it, the prosecution denied his existence yet a PI found this man. I hope we will be able to save Zeigler. Please tell me that we have learned a lesson.