The Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution

Monday, July 07, 2014

Justitia, the goddess of justice Justitia, the goddess of justice (Copyright: Hans-Joerg Nisch/Shutterstock)

In 1989, Texas executed Carlos DeLuna, a poor Hispanic man with childlike intelligence, for the murder a convenience store clerk. His execution passed unnoticed for years until a team of Columbia Law School faculty and students chose to investigate his case. They found that DeLuna almost certainly was innocent—and that another man named Carlos, who was well known to the police and prosecutors, committed the murder. Columbia law school professor James Liebman, and Andrew Markquart and Shawn Crowley, talk about the case and how faulty eyewitness testimony, poor legal representation, and prosecutorial misfeasance continue to put innocent people at risk of execution. They write about this case in The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution.

You can see crime-scene photos, court records, media records, and an interactive map at



Shawn Crowley, James Liebman and Andrew Markquart

Comments [6]

@Estelle: Just as did Clinton, but Clinton's return to assure the execution of demonstrably mentally-impaired Ricky Ray Rector was wholly opportunistic and a filthy cynical political ploy (like cutting-off welfare) designed to appeal to the worst instincts of white US voters--a big, fat, easy target. And now we are ready for two-to-ten years of the same from Hillary Rodham ("'The Bible' is my favorite book") Clinton. As a genuine liberal, I pine for the days of our last genuinely liberal president: Richard M Nixon.

Jul. 08 2014 07:55 AM
Estelle from Brooklyn

To Charles:

Bush actually interrupted his presidential campaign to return to Texas to sign an execution warrant.

Does that answer your question?

Jul. 07 2014 01:01 PM
Charles from Downtown

How much of a role do politicians play in executions? Did Governor Bush speed up executions when running for president?

Jul. 07 2014 12:42 PM
Amy from Manhattan

How long was it btwn. the 2nd 911 call & when the police arrived at the home of this less valued victim?

Jul. 07 2014 12:34 PM
john from office

Where was the defense attorney here??

Jul. 07 2014 12:32 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Where was the defense? Did Mr. de Luna's lawyer(s) have access to any of the evidence the guests are talking about?

Jul. 07 2014 12:20 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.