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TX - Wrong Man Executed

Discussion in 'Past Trial Discussion Threads' started by Cappuccino, May 15, 2012.

  1. Cappuccino

    Cappuccino Well-Known Member

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    http://news.yahoo.com/wrong-man-executed-texas-probe-says-051125159.html

    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.


    Full story at link.
     
  2. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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    Carlos De Luna Execution: Texas Put To Death An Innocent Man, Columbia University Team Says
    Huffington Post article, with pictures of the Carloses
     
  3. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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    The Guardian's excellent article on this case:

    The wrong Carlos: how Texas sent an innocent man to his death
    much more, with pictures, at link above

    ("Tocayo," incidentally, means namesake or person with your same name.)
     
  4. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    I'm glad we can finally put an end to the claim that no innocent person has ever been executed.
     
  5. kgeaux

    kgeaux New Member

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    Me, too. And one is too many. Add him to the many, many who have been exonerated while on death row, and it is plain to see that we need to revamp the whole basis for death penalty cases.
     
  6. AnaTeresa

    AnaTeresa Well-Known Member

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    I very much agree - this is my stumbling block with the death penalty. While there certainly are heinous criminals, the rate of error in executing innocent people is far, far too high. Not just in Texas (although Texas seems to be particularly egregious in these matters) but across the country. It's a systemic problem.
     
  7. SkewedView

    SkewedView New Member

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    That claim (as voiced by Scalia, and used in other forms by numerous others) has always been bogus in the first place, as it tries to place the burden of proof on the accused, and demands an impossible degree of surety in addition. There has been reasonable proof provided in a number of cases that an executed person should never have been convicted (in a number of them, IMO much more convincing evidence has been presented than in this case), which is IMO plenty good enough reason to take a very hard look at the way DP cases are handled, at the very least.

    IMO, these cases are even more important in terms of trying to change the way that courts handle witness testimony & LE interview techniques that lead to confessions/incriminating statements, as well as trying to change the public's (and thus Jury member's) perception of the above - it is a bitter irony that the two types of evidence most responsible for false convictions are deemed by jurists to be the most pivotal & solid. IMO, getting rid of the DP does little good if it still leaves too many innocents in prison due to the over-use of evidence of questionable reliability & value.

    All JMO
     
  8. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    It wasn't that I ever had any doubts, SkewedView. It was just one of those often impossible, "prove the negative" arguments that was repeated over and over in defense of capital punishment.

    I'm glad we can put it to rest and move on...
     
  9. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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    Another "wrong man executed?" case - in Texas, where else:

    Trial By Fire
    Did Texas execute an innocent man?

    Lengthy New Yorker article well worth your while.
     
  10. Theophilus

    Theophilus New Member

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    Justice Scalia overstated his case: We all know of one innocent man who was executed some 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, and by duly constituted authorities acting within their legal purview.

    That being said, I think this present-day case should serve as a warning against sloppy prosecutions, not capital punishment. Yes, executing an innocent man is a horrible injustice and an outrage, but locking an innocent man in a cage for the rest of his life alongside those who have a thirst for evil is likewise a horrible injustice and an outrage.

    In all sincerity, consider: Many of you have concluded that capital punishment is wrong or evil, but lengthy imprisonment is enough to bend and warp even the strongest psyche and make a man wish for death--a horror show in its own right. Are we now to be rid of prisons, because one innocent man might be sent there?
     
  11. kgeaux

    kgeaux New Member

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    Boy. How did you make that leap?

    Asking that the evidence bar be raised in death penalty cases doesn't mean we want to be "rid of prisons." I think most anti death penalty citizens would agree with getting rid of sloppy prosecutions, as well as illegal prosecutions (where exculpatory evidence is hidden from defense), AND limit death penalty cases to those whose evidence far surpasses eyewitness testimony.

    And as far as lengthy imprisonments go, maybe we should ask one of the exonerated and released innocent prisoners if they would have rather been executed than live to see the day their innocence was proved?

    By the way, the "one innocent man" in your last question is actually hundreds of innocent men.
     
  12. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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    You seem to mistake death for life.
     
  13. Theophilus

    Theophilus New Member

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    :peace:My very last remarks were meant as reductio ad absurdum, as a means to spur further discussion. It kinda sorta worked: I got two spirited responses. :peace:
     
  14. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    I can't believe I'm defending Scalia, but I'm sure he meant "in the United States" and probably only since the death penalty was reinstated. I'm sure he knows of the countless innocents executed in Nazi death camps and Soviet gulags.

    Yes, wrongful conviction and imprisonment is terrible, but it is curable. Not so with wrongful execution. THAT is the difference.
     
  15. SkewedView

    SkewedView New Member

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    Usually I agree with you, Nova, but wrongful convictions that don't involve the death penalty have very little chance of ever seeing the light of day & being corrected - sure, the Innocence Project & others do look at non-DP cases, but not all that often, as they slip under the radar & just don't have that ticking clock kicking things into gear.

    IMO, without the motivation of the DP, outside forces just won't go to the extreme lengths necessary to push through the barriers that are built into the system. Don't even get me started on how useful (not) most public defenders offices are.

    *note - I have no beef with public defenders themselves, admire the heck out of many of them, but no matter how good they are, the State keeps them underfunded, understaffed & pressured to keep cases moving through the system quickly, like it's a line at Wal-Mart. They are so overwhelmed, it's no surprise to me when I hear about innocents being convicted or forced into a plea deal.*

    There's just too much resistance within the court system & public opinion to the concept that false convictions are anything but an aberration. Try to bring up the growing body of evidence (admittedly incomplete) that such convictions are more than likely a common occurrence...well, you've been in threads with me where the disbelief was expressed quite vocally, so you know what I'm talking about...

    I personally don't believe there should be a DP until the system has been overhauled & heavily tested to guarantee the right to a truly fair trial, but ironically, the only types of cases that seem able to draw attention to the glaring flaws in the system without being swept under the rug are DP cases (much like how the 'gay marriage' mess has served to draw much needed attention to LBGT rights in general).

    All JMO
     
  16. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    SkewedView, I agree with everything you write above and it is all confirmed by a close friend of mine who is a public defender who specializes in juvenile appeals. In addition to the problems you list, she also talks about the reluctance of appellate courts to overturn any verdict, but particularly jury verdicts, because doing so brings focus on the limitations of the entire system.

    But my point was merely that as long as we know the justice system is negatively affected by fallible human beings, we have no business exacting the ultimate, incurable punishment. This is only one reason why I oppose the death penalty, but it seems to be one that actually moves some people.
     
  17. SkewedView

    SkewedView New Member

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    Yep, we're on the same page here - with the caveat that I'm just cynical enough that I look for ways that the existence of the DP can be used to help fix the larger, systemic issues, since it seems likely that only another Supreme Court banning will ever stop some states from executing prisoners.

    All JMO
     
  18. Tuffgong

    Tuffgong Member

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    I personally feel that DeLuna did not commit the actual killing, am sure of it, But I have to believe he was involved in some way, perhaps as a lookout. He ran and tried to shed clothes that put him at the scene. Texas has the law of parties, so he very well could have been still executed. Still, the CCPD did a terrible job and the DA' s office, was awful.
     
  19. Tuffgong

    Tuffgong Member

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    Hernandez committed the actual killing, no doubt. DeLuna was most likely the lookout. Hernandez was the more vile and violent offender here, but I just have to believe that DeLuna played a role in the crime, most likely as a lookout.
     

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