‘Yes, America, We Have Executed an Innocent Man’

Andrew Cohen, legal analyst for CBS Radio News and 60 Minutes and contributing editor at The Atlantic, writes a compelling article dissecting the book-length investigation of the arrest, conviction and execution of Carlos DeLuna for a murder in 1983.

Titled “Yes, American, We Have Executed an Innocent Man,” Cohen notes that Steve Mills and I conducted our own investigation of the DeLuna case and wrote a three-part series published in 2006.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia...

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In particular, Cohen delivers a scathing criticism of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who ridiculed the proposition that an innocent defendant had been executed in America in an opinion on June 26, 2006, saying in part:

“If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it; the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops by the abolition lobby.”

The following day, the final installment of our series on the wrongful conviction of DeLuna was published in the Chicago Tribune.

Read Cohen’s Atlantic piece in its entirety HERE.
In 2005, James Liebman, a professor at Columbia Law School in New York, approached me and fellow Chicago Tribune reporter Steve Mills and asked if we would be interested in investigating a possible wrongful execution in Texas – -the case of Carlos DeLuna. Several months earlier, Steve and I had investigated and written an article that exposed how Cameron Todd Willingham had been executed in Texas for an arson fire that killed his three children.

Our investigation provided compelling evidence that the fire was not an arson and that Willingham was innocent. Liebman explained that his students and a private investigator had done preliminary work on the DeLuna case and had turned up some evidence that DeLuna was innocent. Liebman offered to turn over the results of their work and the documents they had collected. There were no strings.

Liebman put it simply: Take the case wherever you feel it needs to go. Pull no punches. Give it your best shot.

The result was a three part series, published in 2006, which not only provided strong evidence that DeLuna was innocent, but also identified the true killer.

Six years later, Liebman and company have published Los Tocayos Carlos –  a book-length account of the DeLuna case, published in the Columbia Human Rights Review – complete with a robust, dynamic website crammed with video interviews, photographs, transcripts, and exhibits documenting the wrongful execution.

Read the Columbia account in its entirety HERE.

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