Longform

Family Secrets

Page 8 of 8

That afternoon, Sally stopped by Ken Winsberg's office with Gerry Best to go over a few items and to take the trial exhibits to review overnight.

"She was nervous about the trial," Claudia Rivas recalled, "but said she was so happy to get it over with. She promised to get the exhibits back the next morning."

Before Sally left, she blurted something that Rivas says she'll never forget.

"She told me that she had a feeling that Danny was getting too close, too close. She said she just knew it."

About 12 hours after that, someone executed Sally and Gerry Best in the middle of their apartment parking lot.

Danny Carbajal claims he has no idea who killed the pair. "There's all kinds of stuff floating around," he said. "I heard that the guy she was living with was selling drugs, but you just don't know. Everybody talks."

Judge Burke's sentiments about Danny became clear about a week after the murders.

Although the divorce case had ended with Sally's death, Burke ordered Danny to pay Ken Winsberg's remaining attorney's fees of almost $7,000. That came on top of the judge's prior $10,000 order.

Burke wrote that he believed he had the authority "to award attorney's fees directly to Wife's counsel notwithstanding the fact that Wife was murdered the day before trial."

It was a hard financial slap in Danny's face, but nothing compared to what he likely would have faced had his divorce trial gone forward.

Danny's attorney has appealed the judge's ruling.

Because Phoenix police haven't released reports on their homicide investigation, it isn't known what Danny Carbajal may have told detectives about his whereabouts last February 25.

That night, Ken Winsberg said, he kept fixating on what might have happened in the last moments of his client's life. He said he found himself in a dreamlike state just before dawn, but was startled into consciousness by what he thought was a gunshot.

Winsberg says he actually felt around his body for a bullet wound, but found none.

Then he realized what was up. A carrier had just tossed the morning paper onto his driveway.

"Maybe Sally never knew what hit her, never saw anybody, never felt anything," Winsberg said. "But Gerry did, because he was coming to her aid. Someone should have to pay for this, and dearly. These people shouldn't be forgotten victims."

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin