The Phantom: The Case of Carlos DeLuna 40 Years Later

The Phantom: The Case of Carlos DeLuna 40 Years Later

After covering The State of Texas vs. Melissa (2021), once again we are talking on Factual America about the death penalty in the state of Texas.

The recently released documentary The Phantom (2021) shines a light on a capital murder case, but probably in ways that most of us have never experienced before. The film follows Carlos DeLuna, who was arrested in 1983 for the murder of a woman service station attendant, but protested his innocence until he was executed, stating another Carlos had committed the crime.

Through interviews with eyewitnesses, Carlos DeLuna’s family members, and legal experts, the film examines if the judicial system executed an innocent man, and whether or not there could be another Carlos that the prosecution called ‘the phantom’. 

We’re joined by award-winning director, Patrick Forbes, to discuss how he found out about the case of Carlos DeLuna and how he got involved with making the film. We also talk about the death penalty in Texas and the art of storytelling that Patrick deploys in this documentary. 

“Humans are endlessly interesting and curious. You don’t do this job to get rich, you do this job because you like stories and you like people.” – Patrick Forbes

Time Stamps:

00:00 – Introducing the guest, and the trailer for The Phantom.
03:52 – The link Patrick’s film Brexit: A Very British Coup has with America.
05:14 – A brief synopsis of The Phantom.
06:39 – The untrustworthy character of Carlos and why his defence was so unbelievable.
11:32 – The strength of the case against Carlos.
13:14 – Why Patrick presents the events of the documentary in real time. 
14:22 – The new aspects of the case Patrick discovered as he was filming.
20:29 – The unreliable nature of eyewitness testimonies.
24:51 – Clip: the tape of the victim’s call to 911 just before she was murdered. 
28:55 – Why Patrick thought this case deserved to be made into a film.
32:50 – How he got in contact with everyone who was involved in the case.
37:36 – How he brought a 40-year-old case to life.
43:14 – The ‘no-go’ areas there were in some parts of Texas.
47:35 – The challenges that come with being an English filmmaker working in America.
50:04 – Why Patrick interviewed some subjects in Spanish, their mother tongue.
54:14 – The dangerous area the victim had no option but to work in.
57:58 – The importance of the composer and soundtrack of the film.
1:00:30 – The next project Patrick is working on.  


The Phantom (2021)
Brexit: A Very British Coup (2016)
Innersound Audio
Alamo Pictures

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More From Factual America:
The State of Texas vs. Melissa: The Death Penalty’s Problems
Murder Among the Mormons: The Mark Hofmann Story
Capital Punishment: Life and Death Row

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Episode 69