The Case of the Fatal Femme

Samantha Somegustava's boyfriend tells the homicide detective she has a "hard heart." By now, the cop knows what he means

The driver of the Cherokee is Mario Mendoza, a 25-year-old Phoenix man. He waits in another part of the gaming inspector's office, guarded by a Gila River cop.

Before Ballentine starts his interview, he asks Samantha on videotape if she's hungry. She says she is. A tribal officer goes into the casino to fetch her and Mendoza some fast food.

After she's done eating, Samantha Somegustava has Jack Ballentine's complete attention.

The detective has a Gila River officer remove her handcuffs as he goes to fetch her some tissue.

In a relaxed, almost convivial tone of voice, Ballentine asks the suspect about the garish tattoo on her neck.

She says that "R.I.P." is short for Rest In Peace. The word inked into her skin on her upper chest is Macido, a murdered uncle of hers.

The detective remembers the tee shirt found in Gabe's car, which had on it the words "R.I.P. Macido."

Samantha explains that the three tattooed dots under her right eye stand for "peace, love and happiness."

But there's none of that in the interview room as Ballentine ups the ante:

"I can help you, in that I am able to understand your story, I am able to tell your story for you and I can answer any questions that you've got. If you lie to me, there's not a damned thing I'm gonna do for you.

"I want you to know this -- it's very important for everybody to be honest. I'm a cop who's been around for 30 years. Before you got picked up, I did my homework. I've got my case done. The only thing that's gonna help this for you is your honesty. I'm already done. But let's start when you got the car."

Samantha contends that Gabe Cruz kidnapped her in the Cavalier and drove to the cornfields at 99th Avenue with the intent of raping her. But she'd found a shotgun in his car and shot him three times in self-defense.

Then she'd left his body behind and split in the car.

Samantha explains that she'd been hanging at a Circle K parking lot at 21st Avenue and Van Buren Street, probably after 4 a.m. Gabe, who was a stranger to her, drove into the lot in the Cavalier convertible.

Gabe started chatting with her and she got into his car, though she doesn't specify why:

"He's going, 'Let's party, party,' and I said no. I told him I had a boyfriend. I was crying, begging him to stop. I tried to tell him I'm pregnant."

She says Gabe drove out to 99th Avenue and turned down a dirt road. She says she was "traumatized."

"I said, 'If you're trying to rape me, just let me know.' I said, 'Don't you have a girlfriend or something?' And he said no."

Samantha says Gabe slapped her in the mouth and scratched her face, and then pulled out a "big old gun" from the front passenger seat.

Ballentine asks Samantha if she thought she was going to die.

"If I didn't do what he wanted me to do," she responds.

Still inside the car, Samantha tried to grab his gun from him, she says, kicking and screaming.

Finally, he released it, she says.

In a panic, she says she shot Gabe in his left side as he sat at the wheel.

Though he was badly injured, Gabe started to choke her, Samantha says. She says she racked another round into the chamber and shot him again.

Gabe opened the door and managed to get out of the car, she says, after which she also got out and, she recalls, dropped the weapon by a back tire.

Somehow, the wounded man picked up the shotgun and told her he was going to kill her baby, Samantha tells the detective. (She actually wasn't pregnant.) He was bleeding profusely all over her, she claims.

She kicked him in the crotch, she says, and the gun again discharged, this time by accident.

Samantha says she jumped into the driver's seat and took off, leaving her "attacker" on the ground.

"I couldn't believe myself that I did it," she tells Ballentine.

Samantha says she later threw the gun out of the car somewhere on the reservation.

"Somewhere in there you did the credit card," Ballentine tosses in, to no response.

"All right, here's the deal," he says. "I'm taking it that you feel sorry for what you did . . . I want you to pay close attention to me. You weren't in this by yourself. I can tell you, how you're saying it went down is impossible."

"It's exactly what happened," Samantha insists.

"You're taking the heat for someone else being with you. Whoever it was, they'll tell me because I know a lot of things already . . . I'm fine with charging you with murder. I'm fine with that."

Samantha says, "Well, the only part I left out . . ."

Ballentine won't let her finish:

"Don't go with that. You weren't by yourself, and you were going to take all the heat. That doesn't say nothing. What's right is standing up and telling the truth.

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3 comments
scogostology_worldol
scogostology_worldol

This is among the top 10 most despicable murder stories I have ever read about!

sandrajeanharvey
sandrajeanharvey

Sam & Richard are my family they are hurting well in prison. I still love them and feel for them. they had a very hard life growing up, no excuse for what they did. please pray for them they are human. as the years go by, I hope they know that god does for give.

sandrajeanharvey
sandrajeanharvey

Sam & Richard are my family they are hurting well in prison. I still love them and feel for them. they had a very hard life growing up, no excuse for what they did. please pray for them they are human. as the years go by, I hope they know that god does for give.

 
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