By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
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By Jason P. Woodbury
By Dulce Paloma Baltazar Pedraza
By Ray Stern
"Your voice is sounding a little bit angry," Powers noted. "Are you getting angry about this, sir?"
"I'm not getting angry," Gibbons said. "I'm getting angry at what--these guys pulled a gun on me. Mike Henry and John Barcello is lying, and I didn't do anything wrong."
"After that last answer, did you mouth some word to me?" Powers asked.
"Yes I did."
"What words were you mouthing, sir?"
Gibbons pinned the time of his altercation with the two or perhaps three long-haired white guys and the ensuing chase at just a few minutes either side of midnight.
He was crystal clear on this point, he said, because his curfew was midnight, and when he and Miller left the Trails parking lot, it was close to curfew, and he was eager to get home.
If Gibbons' story is true, it means there were two car chases that night, down the same road, where one car began to lose control in the same block, on the same night, but an hour and 45 minutes apart.
Police investigators documented only one set of fresh skid marks on Cactus, and they were made by the Hyundai.
Eli Miller, who was 14 at the time of the accident, testified two weeks after Gibbons. Gloria Cavalera was present for his deposition. So was Miller's mother, and Gibbons.
Miller agreed with Gibbons that there was an altercation and ensuing chase down Cactus, certainly no later than a few minutes after midnight.
However, he then proceeded to contradict Gibbons on numerable key details. Among them: Gibbons testified that after the chase, he dropped Miller off, then went home. Miller said Gibbons spent the night at his house. He also said the car windows were rolled up when the other car cut them off, and neither of them shouted anything. Miller said Gibbons did not slam on his brakes, or sound his horn. Miller said he didn't see any of the guys in the other car run across the street, and said none of them made a gesture like they had a gun. Also, Miller testified he never saw the other car start fishtailing.
"Eli, are you sure you were in the car that night?" Powers asked.
"It wasn't someone else in the car?"
"No, it was me."
Powers asked Miller again if he saw the other vehicle start fishtailing or go out of control. Miller again said no.
"It was just all of a sudden gone?"
"Yeah, pretty much."
"And you didn't look back to see where it was or anything else?"
Powers was incredulous.
"Does that seem a little odd to you?"
"No, not really. I just would think that's what a normal kid would do."
"Did you think they may have gotten into any kind of an accident?"
"I didn't hear or see anything."
"Mike says you saw them fishtail. Did you see them fishtail?"
"If he would have told you they were fishtailing at that high rate of speed, you would have thought they probably crashed, right?" Powers asked.
"Well, yeah, I think anyone would."
Based on Gibbons' and Miller's jumbled and contradictory testimony, neither Powers nor Gloria Cavalera believes Eli Miller was even in the car with Gibbons that night.
Cavalera says, "Somebody prepped him, but they didn't prep him well. I think he's doing it for either a) someone he's scared of, or b) someone he cares a lot about."
Eli Miller, a junior at Shadow Mountain High, answered the phone at his mother's apartment on February 4.
"I'm not supposed to answer any questions," he said.
New Times asked if he was in the car with Gibbons that night.
"I'm not really sure, because I'm just a little kid who doesn't really know anything.
"Call back and talk to my mom, or just ask Mike."
Through his attorney, Gibbons refused to comment for this story. Several messages left at his home number went unanswered.
She's played it over in her mind thousands of times, and what Gloria Cavalera believes happened the night her son died is this:
Thomas, Graci and her son left Liguori's the time Thomas gave Detective Ripley in the hospital--about 12:45--not 1:30 a.m., as both swore in their depositions. The later time would have made it practically impossible for Thomas and Graci to have returned to Wells' house between leaving Liguori's and the wreck.
Cavalera believes Wells and Thomas were in her house again that night, as Carneal and Wells' little brother had said, and that Thomas used the phone to call or page someone, probably Mike Gibbons. (Gibbons testified that he had a pager but received no pages the whole night.)
She believes Thomas arranged to meet Gibbons in the parking lot of Bob's Market, three blocks from her house. Cavalera believes her son thought he was dropping Thomas and Graci off to meet some friends, who Thomas and Graci thought would either get them home eventually or jump-start Graci's Firebird (Wells didn't have cables).
"Dana left the front door unlocked," she says. "He wouldn't have done that with his girlfriend and his little brothers and sisters inside if he didn't think he would literally be back in a minute."