top of page
The Wrong Carlos: How a Real Life Doppelgänger Got Off While an
Innocent Man Got Executed

It’s a story that sounded so far-fetched that it ended up working against Carlos DeLuna at trial. “It wasn’t me, it was another guy named Carlos that looked like me.” It’s hard to believe. It feels fake. But it happened. And as much as I have empathy for the jury in disbelieving a story that sounded so farfetched. There are 2 people who you should not feel sympathy for.

The Actual Perpetrator

The first being Carlos Hernandez. He is the person who actually stabbed Wanda Lopez to death. He had an extensive history of violence towards women and always having a very particular knife while being arrested on a consistent basis. This same looking knife was found at the scene where Wanda Lopez was murdered. Carlos Hernandez had the gall to brag to multiple people that he had murdered Wanda Lopez and that the other Carlos had taken the fall. But none of this helped Carlos DeLuna. He was executed in 1989.

The Prosecutor

The second person to not feel sorry for is the prosecutor. He had the gall to deny that Carlos Hernandez even existed. DeLuna’s defense was that it was Carlos Hernandez. The prosecutor claimed to procure a list of all of the Carlos Hernandezes who had been arrested in Corpus Christi, TX and not one of the mugshots matched the person DeLuna was saying committed this crime. The prosecutor brazenly said Hernandez was a “phantom” (the title of the documentary on DeLuna that is on Netflix at the time this article is being posted). The jury believed the prosecutor. It was not until years later that it was discovered that Hernandez was convicted in that very same courtroom for a different crime. And guess who was prosecuting that case? The same prosecutor as in DeLuna's case.  Investigation uncovered that Carlos Hernandez was an informant for the police. And that he was able to get off of multiple charges because of this relationship. It was a cover up job. Carlos Hernandez not only existed, but was hidden from the Defense. Multiple victims of Hernandez's abuse can vouch that he bragged of not only of the murder that DeLuna was wrongfully convicted of, but at least one other murder. It’s staggeringly unjust.

The Misidentification

So, you may ask how did the wrong Carlos get identified? They look very similar. There are no pictures of DeLuna in the creative commons, so I cannot post them on this website. But watch The Phantom and see how similar they looked. And then the bad luck of having the same first name only compounded the difficulty Carlos DeLuna faced. The story sounded improbable. Another man that looks like you with the same name? It sounds made up. But this wasn’t a fairy tale. Carlos DeLuna paid for this mistake with his life.

Takeaways if You Are Falsely Accused

What do you do if you have the misfortune of being accused of a crime that a doppelgänger or someone else committed? A thorough investigation into the other person will be invaluable in your defense. However, this becomes difficult to do in cases where the prosecution provides nothing about the alternative perpetrator. Skilled criminal defense attorneys often know who the best private investigators are because of their experience with working with them on cases. The inadequacies of the police investigation sometime make it necessary for the Defense to launch their own investigation. It shouldn't be that way. As the government prosecuting the case they should fully investigate their own cases. But bellyaching about it won't help. If you are the one falsely accused, nobody cares as much as you do about uncovering the truth. 

garden - cropped tops.jpg

Peter Lindstrom, Esq.

Founder of Subzero Criminal Defense

I practice exclusively in the state of Minnesota. If you are falsely accused in Minnesota, contact me for a consultation. If you are falsely accused in another state or country, contact a qualified attorney in your jurisdiction. 

bottom of page