An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.  - Gandhi

New investigation indicates another innocent man executed

Oklahoma City – Columbia University law professor James Liebman published findings in the 2012 spring issue of Columbia Human Rights Law Review. to report that he and a team of students have proven that Texas gave a lethal injection to the wrong man. Check out their evidence at

In 2006, Chicago Tribune investigative reporters Maurice Possley and Steve Mills revealed groundbreaking evidence that Texas may have executed an innocent man in 1989. The defendant, Carlos DeLuna, was executed for the fatal stabbing of Texas convenience store clerk Wanda Lopez in 1983. The reporters had uncovered evidence that cast doubt on DeLuna’s guilt and pointed towards Carlos Hernandez, who looked very much like DeLuna. Hernandez had a record of similar crimes and repeatedly confessed to the murder.

One of the strongest arguments against the death penalty is the horrific chance of executing an innocent person. Carlos De Luna was executed in 1989 based on eyewitness testimony, which formed the foundation of the case against him.

“If a new trial was somehow able to be conducted today, a jury would acquit De Luna,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, who read a draft of Liebman’s report. “We don’t have a perfect case where all can agree that we have an innocent person who’s been executed, but by weight of this investigation, I think we can say this is as close as a person is going to come.”

“The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP) is grateful to the Columbia Law School’s intensive investigation that provides an astonishing array of evidence that Texas executed another innocent man—Carlos DeLuna,” said OK-CADP co-chair Lydia Gill Polley. “Sadly, Carlos DeLuna’s case is not unique. Many others, including Shaun Stemple that Oklahoma executed March 15, 2012, plus Cameron Todd Willingham, Ruben Cantu, Larry Griffin, Gary Graham, and Troy Davis, who have all been executed despite grave doubts about their guilt. The cracks in the system that sent DeLuna to his death – unreliable eyewitness identification, inadequate legal representation, and prosecutorial misconduct – are still sending innocent people to death row today.”

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According to the Death Penalty Information Center, there is no way to tell how many of the over 1,000 people executed since 1976 may have been innocent. Courts do not generally entertain claims of innocence when the defendant is dead.

“When innocent people are executed, it is an unimaginable tragedy,” said Polley. “That tragedy is made worse when the real perpetrators go free to commit more violent crimes. While DeLuna was on death row, Hernandez’s violence against women continued. He stabbed and attempted to rape another woman.”

Founded in 1992 by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld, The Innocence Project is one of a number of non-profit legal organizations dedicated to proving the innocence of wrongly convicted people through the use of DNA testing, and to reforming the criminal justice systems to prevent future injustice

To date, 289 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 17 who served time on death row. They were convicted in 11 states and served a combined 209 years in prison – including 187 years on death row – for crimes they didn’t commit.

“How can we trust a system that has released ten men from Oklahoma’s death row with evidence of their innocence? It seems highly likely to me, that we too have executed some who were innocent. We hope that Shaun Stemple’s name will be cleared in time as Carlos DeLuna’s has been,” said Polley.

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