By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
"Did you ever have any concerns--once you recognized that you had amnesia, did you have any concerns that you might have suffered a head injury?"
"Did I have concerns? No, I wasn't concerned."
Sinner spoke again, asking Graci where he was on the afternoon before the deposition.
Stanley Jerman protested: "What does that have to do with this?"
Sinner kept her attention on Graci.
"You were with Shawn yesterday afternoon, weren't you?"
"I don't know. No, not that I know of."
"Did you talk to him yesterday about the depositions today?"
"What did you guys talk about?"
"I said, 'Shawn, we have to be there at 11:00, so don't sleep in.'"
"And you were at his house?"
"Actually, no. Yesterday I did not go to his house. I remember that very, very vividly, not going to his house."
"What kind of car do you have?"
"And you're telling me it wasn't parked at his house yesterday afternoon?"
Jerman broke in again: "Just a minute. What is the relevancy? What does this have to do with the cause of the accident, or--"
Sinner cut him off. "Now it has to do with credibility."
"What does yesterday have to do with this accident?" Graci said between them.
"If they discussed the depositions, I'm entitled to know that," Sinner told Jerman. Then, to Graci: "Was your car at his house yesterday afternoon?"
"Was he at your house anytime yesterday?"
"When was he at your house?"
"I don't know. Daytime. We went and got some lunch."
"And what else did you talk about the depositions other than the time of them?"
"Nothing but we had to come here and meet."
"Did you discuss with Shawn his memories of the accident?"
"What has he told you about his memories of the accident?"
"That he can't remember. He remembers eating the ants, and then that's the last time he told me he remembered."
"You both have the exact same last memory?"
"Is that a yes?"
Sinner asked Graci if he suspected he might have been chased the night of the accident.
"No, I can't--I don't know what's the case. I'm just saying, listen, as far as I know, everyone else has come up with this story that we were being chased. As far as I know, I woke up and I was in an accident. Everybody else put together the case--the story. I didn't put--I have no idea. So if everyone---then, yeah, they're detectives. If that's what they put together, then fine, yeah. If that's the answer they came up with, it's better than what I can come up with."
Sinner asked Graci if he owned a different car from the time of the accident.
"Yes, I do."
"And that's the Mustang you just talked about."
"Did your mom buy that for you?"
"You paid for that?"
"That's from the monies from the settlement of the accident?"
Jerman erupted: "You know, I'm sorry, but I've got to bring this to an end. This is so far afield."
Sinner: "That was my last question."
Two defendants in a civil case over a fatal car wreck--one suffered broken legs, the other a broken jaw and facial abrasions--both claim simultaneous amnesia, starting after one of them found ants in a bag of Funyons.
Speaking of such a case hypothetically, Phoenix forensic psychiatrist Steven Pitt, a clinical associate professor at the University of Arizona medical center who has testified in numerous high-profile murder trials, has this to say:
"It is possible to sustain amnesia absent a head injury, such as a scenario where an individual watches someone get run over by a truck, but has no memory of the event. The sheer trauma of witnessing or experiencing such a horrible event could cause an individual to disassociate from the event.
"However, is it incredibly suspicious for two individuals to report the same level and degree of retrograde amnesia, right down to the last bag of chips? I would say it's certainly cause for concern.
"Given the legal and medical context of this case, one would be remiss if they didn't consider such individuals could be malingering their amnesia."
Gloria Cavalera has certainly considered it.
Two weeks after Dana died, while Graci was still in the hospital, she and Mark Corona drove to Thomas' house and rang the doorbell.
This is Cavalera's and Corona's story of what happened next:
Thomas answered. He had a group of friends over. He went inside, grabbed a coat, and told his company he'd be back soon. Then he got into Gloria Cavalera's car.
"I don't even know where we're going," he said.
"To see a friend," Corona told him.
Cavalera took Thomas to her son's grave.
"I thought it might jar his memory," she says.
Standing over the headstone, Cavalera and Corona badgered Thomas for information.
"He just kept saying, 'I don't remember,'" Cavalera says. "Then he started to yell: 'I'll take a damn lie-detector test, because I know it wasn't me.' And I looked at him and asked, 'What wasn't you? And how do you know it wasn't you, if you can't remember?'"