By Ray Stern
By New Times
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"Naw," Femenia says. "I just want you to relax. You need anything to drink?"
Sedlacek says he doesn't.
A few minutes later, Femenia watches from the videotape monitoring room as Detective Laird expertly walks the witness through his account of the preceding hours.
At the end of the interview, Laird steps into the monitoring room and asks Femenia if he's missed asking anything.
"Nope," the lead detective replies. "My turn."
Shawn Drake is waiting in Interview Room #2. Looking at Drake via the television monitor, Jerry Laird says, "Life as he knew it has taken a definite left turn."
Also in the monitoring room is Dr. Steven Pitt, a forensic psychiatrist who often lends his expertise to C-32's squad members.
"I've always wondered what this moment is like in someone's head," Pitt says, speaking of suspects in Drake's current position.
"Can you imagine being in his brain right now?" Laird replies.
"Yeah," the doctor says, "this moment and the moment after the interrogation is done."
At 10:41 a.m., Femenia introduces himself to Shawn Drake as "the head detective" in the case.
Then he reads Drake the standard Miranda warning against self-incrimination and right to counsel.
Ironically, 42 years earlier, Ernesto Miranda himself had confessed to kidnapping and rape in Interview Room #2 at the Phoenix Police Department, then located down the street.
Miranda was convicted, but won a retrial after the landmark 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that bears his name. However, a second jury convicted him even without hearing about his confession. After serving his sentence, Miranda was stabbed to death in January 1976 at a downtown Phoenix bar. The suspect in that case exercised his Miranda rights, and was freed because of lack of evidence.
Shawn Drake decides to talk.
He's a pale young man with spiked, bleached blond hair. He lists his height at six feet and weight at about 150 pounds. He looks as if he hasn't slept in days.
"This is a horrible experience for you," Femenia starts.
The suspect readily agrees.
Drake offers some personal background, saying he was raised in Tucson, and had been living in Casa Grande until the previous summer, when he'd accepted Tim Contreraz's invitation to move in.
He says he'd met Contreraz over the Internet.
Drake notes that he's been taking correspondence classes through the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, hoping someday to earn money as an artist. For now, the suspect says, he's working as the wine "sommelier" at Durant's.
"The wine what?" the detective asks.
"Sommelier," Drake repeats, though he pronounces it like the African nation Somalia, not the correct way (sah-mahl-yay).
Seeing that Femenia's not quite getting it (correct pronunciation or not), Drake explains that he's the wine manager at the eatery, the wine guy.
Now they can move forward.
"Tell me in your own words what happened last night or this morning," the detective says.
Drake's first account:
Contreraz picked him up from work about 11 p.m., and they went out for drinks at a bar that caters to a gay clientele. After they got home sometime after 2 a.m., he passed out on a couch, but was awakened by Contreraz's inexplicably pouring water on him and choking him with his hands.
"Next thing I know I was in the kitchen," Drake says.
Femenia slows him down, moves him back in time to the bar, whose name Drake says he can't recall.
Drake says he and Contreraz had fun there, including making a friendly wager about the size of another patron's penis.
For the first time, the suspect now mentions that he and Contreraz had invited two men home with them. He says he can't remember either of their names, but does know that they'd left before Contreraz allegedly assaulted him on the couch.
The detective asks Drake if he blacked out after Contreraz attacked him.
"I guess," the suspect replies. "Water's going on my face, and I'm being suffocated. I can't breathe . . . I jumped up. Nobody touches me when I'm asleep!"
But Drake continues to insist that he doesn't recall actually stabbing Contreraz, despite what he'd told Gary Sedlacek and the responding patrol officers.
Push is about to come to shove.
"You don't remember how he got dead?" Femenia asks.
"You do, don't you?"
Drake suddenly says he does remember grabbing something out of a kitchen drawer and "hitting" Contreraz with it.
"Do you believe it was a knife?" the detective asks.
"I believe it probably was," Drake says. "I jumped up, I shoved him off of me, pushed him back. . . . Someone standing right above me, suffocating me, someone trying to suffocate me, aren't you going to react?"
Femenia doesn't answer, and Drake keeps yipping:
"The whole thing was like a 'I'm gonna kick your ass' kind of fight. Self-defense mechanism. [Then] I told myself, 'I have to get the hell out of here.'"
He concedes that Contreraz was unarmed during the entire clash.
Drake says he didn't have sex with either man they'd invited home, but Contreraz had been jealous when he flirted with one of them.
"As far as I know, there was no sexual transaction whatsoever," Drake says, in an odd turn of phrase.