As support for capital punishment in America continues to erode, a new book might be the next nail in the death penalty’s coffin. The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of A Wrongful Execution details the harrowing case of Carlos DeLuna, who was killed by lethal injection on December 7, 1989 for a crime he didn’t commit. From investigation to conviction, his case embodies all the reasons American support for the death penalty is at an all-time low.
It all started when DeLuna, a man described as “childlike” and “simple,” was found huddling under a pick-up truck on the evening of February 4, 1983 and was arrested for the murder of Wanda Lopez. Although DeLuna was found without any blood on his clothes, shoes, or skin, and he was wearing different clothing than the initial eyewitness reports, the lone eyewitness identified him as being the killer. In what everyone thought was an open-and-shut case, DeLuna was handed a guilty verdict and sentenced to death.
The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of A Wrongful Execution chronicles in chilling detail evidence uncovered since DeLuna’s execution that supports his innocence. From the mistaken witness identification (DeLuna was mistook for a look-alike, Carlos Hernandez, who had murdered before), to ineffective lawyering and sloppy police work leading jurors and judges to believe that Hernandez did not even exist, DeLuna’s case epitomizes all that is wrong with the American death penalty system today.
The evidence they present is so compelling that even the District Attorney in DeLuna’s case said that he found himself “face to face with the hard truth” that he had been “involved in the execution of a man who may well have been innocent.” Each sentence of the book’s thesis is carefully supported by an online companion that features the most complete set of records ever compiled in a capital case, including crime scene photos, law enforcement and court records, videotaped interviews, and more.
As Anatomy of A Wrongful Execution shows, the death penalty in America is broken. Tragically, Carlos DeLuna paid for those errors with his life.