cover image The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution

The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution

James S. Liebman. Columbia Univ, $27.95 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-0-231-16723-9

Columbia University law professor Liebman and five now-graduated students of the Columbia Law School stumbled upon an atrociously handled capital murder case in which a young Hispanic man, Carlos DeLuna, was wrongfully convicted for the murder of Wanda Lopez. The Carlos DeLuna project expands on the “abject failure of the Texas criminal justice system” in this infuriating yet engrossing book on wrongful conviction. Convenience store clerk Wanda Lopez was warned of a man carrying a knife loitering near her store. She called the police—once to tell them of the man, and a second time when he was already in the store. Recorded on that second phone call are her last words. Nearby, DeLuna is found hiding under a truck, and what follows is both tragic and shocking. Liebman details the police and courtroom procedures after DeLuna’s arrest and describes how police incompetence, corrupt and inefficient lawyers, and sheer bad luck place the wrong man in jail, letting the true murderer, Carlos Hernandez, off the hook to commit more acts of violence. Liebman details the fallibility of eye-witness accounts alongside the injustice of death penalty sentencing, and the examples of racism, contempt for the poor, and police inaction mark this as an important critique of our legal system. (July)