Those were the words of Carlos DeLuna, a young Latino man who Texas executed in 1989. At trial, DeLuna said that another man—Carlos Hernandez—murdered Wanda Lopez, a single mother stabbed to death while working at a convenience store in Corpus Christi.
The prosecution told the jury that Carlos Hernandez was a “phantom” DeLuna made up. In reality, police and prosecutors knew Hernandez, knew of his history of convenience store robberies and knew he used the same kind of knife that killed Lopez to kill another young Latina woman and to nearly kill a third.
A decade ago, as a law student at Columbia University, other students and I reviewed thousands of pages of trial transcripts, government files and witness interviews to uncover the truth: The state arrested, convicted and executed the wrong Carlos. Our team even discovered a 40-minute audiotape of the police manhunt just after the murder.