In Brief: Summer 2012

Wrongful death?

In 1986, a twenty-six-year-old man named Carlos DeLuna was executed in Texas for the murder of a convenience-store clerk. This spring, Columbia Law School professor James Liebman and a dozen of his students published Los Tocayos Carlos, a book-length monograph that presents evidence of DeLuna’s innocence.

DeLuna had insisted the killer was a man named Carlos Hernandez, who physically resembled DeLuna in addition to sharing his first name (tocayo means “namesake” in Spanish). The prosecution claimed Hernandez was a product of DeLuna’s imagination. But Liebman and his students concluded that Hernandez was a real person who had admitted to many people that he was the real murderer before dying in prison in 1999.


Manhattanville goes platinum

The US Green Building Council recently awarded Columbia its LEED Platinum certification — the council’s highest rating — in the “neighborhood development” category for the University’s plan to build a seventeen-acre campus in Manhattanville. This marks the first time the council has ever awarded its Platinum certification to a university campus plan.

Columbia was praised for the energy efficiency of its slated facilities; the clean, quiet, and low-emission construction work now taking place there; and the University’s commitment to making the new campus open and accessible to neighbors.

“The Manhattanville campus will help usher in a new era of development of smarter, healthier communities across the globe,” said US Green Building Council president and cofounder Rick Fedrizzi.


Hearts and mind

Columbia medical researchers led by Donald Edmondson have found that one in eight people who suffer a heart attack or other acute coronary event go on to experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result. The meta-analysis of twenty-four studies shows that heart patients who develop PTSD double their risk of having another cardiac event within one to three years.

The findings suggest that posttraumatic stress might arise from any life-threatening event, says Edmondson, whose study was published June 20 in the online journal PLoS One. “The underlying similarity between heart attacks, combat experiences, and even witnessing other people going through violence is that the person experiences the threat of mortality and feels out of control,” he says.