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And it was just nine hours after Judge Hendrix sentenced him to prison, following an 18-minute hearing.

Frosty's back was to the cell door. He looked like he was kneeling. Either he'd had the determination to hang himself by holding his legs off the ground until he suffocated or he'd miscalculated the time of the guard's arrival, passed out for lack of air and hanged himself when he slumped down unconscious.

"I don't even know if he really wanted to die," says Becker. "What he was doing was trying to get out of going to prison. I think he wanted someone to stop him. I think he had a plan, and it just backfired."
It seemed everyone who knew him came to the funeral, except one of his brothers, who was in prison. He was allowed to view Frosty's body in the mortuary the day before the service, as long as no other family members were in sight.

On the day of the funeral, the coffin was opened three different times. Everyone filed by each time, as though trying to convince themselves it was really Frosty in there, so peaceful and still.

His homies put tokens on his chest.
His mother wept inconsolably.
A veteran probation officer stood awkwardly in the front row.
A woman from the prison played in the somber band.

Many people wore tee shirts bearing his picture and the words, "In Loving Memory of Frosty: Henry Cruz."

Frosty lay in his coffin, perfect and tiny in death. His mother stroked his cold cheek. His sisters smoothed his dark hair. His friends talked about the day Frosty beat up the biggest kid at Adobe.

But oddly enough, Frosty didn't look like a gangster who'd spent his best years in lockup.

Lying there in his coffin, dwarfed by death, Henry Cruz looked like a sleeping child.

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Peter Aleshire