The Case of the Fatal Femme

Page 9 of 12

"I'm scared," is all Samantha can muster. "I have a fear of dying."

"Don't we all?" Ballentine responds. "I sympathize with that, I understand that."

"You want a name?" Samantha says. "His name is Richard. He's not my boyfriend, I can guarantee you that! Okay, I gave you a name."

Ballentine has moved in for his own kind of kill.

In her second account, Samantha says she was with a friend named Audrey at the Circle K when Gabe pulled in and solicited sex from them.

She says Audrey (last name unknown) persuaded Gabe to take her to buy drugs at a nearby hotel, the Oasis. Samantha joined them in the car only because she didn't want Audrey to be alone.

At the hotel, Samantha says, Audrey had gone into a room by herself, but never returned.

Samantha says Gabe tried to yank off her top as he left the area.

She claims she'd gotten him to drive her out to 91st Avenue in Tolleson by claiming she needed to use a bathroom at a friend's apartment.

The friend was Richard Enos -- giving up the surname this time.

As Gabe waited in the car, Samantha roused Enos in the apartment, telling him that a guy had been disrespecting her. She says she told Enos she needed his help in kicking Gabe out of his car and then dumping it somewhere.

Samantha says Enos had a shotgun down his right leg when he walked out with her. She'd pleaded with him not to use it because she just wanted to teach Gabe a lesson, not to commit murder.

Without saying how she got behind the wheel, Samantha says she drove the Cavalier southwest, stopped somewhere and told Gabe to get out of the car. But she says he wouldn't obey her. Then she ordered him into the back seat.

Enos got back there with Gabe for some reason, she tells Ballentine, and a struggle ensued. The shotgun sat on the right front passenger seat.

She says she stopped on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. There, she says, Enos grabbed the weapon and inexplicably ordered everyone out of the car.

Samantha says she'd become frightened of Enos by this time.

The shotgun somehow ended up in her hands, and Enos ordered her to shoot Gabe, which she did. She says she shot him again as he tried to climb back into his car.

Samantha says she'd mistakenly extracted a live shotgun shell from the gun during the clash, and had looked in vain for it after the killing. She adds that some dollar bills on the driver's seat probably also ended up on the ground outside the car.

Samantha admits that she fired a third shot into Gabe and left him dying or dead in the dirt.

She then drove Gabe's stolen car onto the Gila River Reservation.

Samantha says she'd thought of burning the Cavalier in the desert, but decided not to. Instead, she relates, she tried to remove the blood inside the vehicle with a fabric cleaner.

She admits to "slanging" gas at the Shell station -- that is, buying it with a stolen credit card and selling it half-price to friends.

Ballentine's interview with Samantha Somegustava is over at 9 p.m.

She has tried to lay the blame for the murder on the two men in the car, first on victim Gabe Cruz and then on Richard Enos.

But Samantha's statements to Ballentine have amounted to a chilling confession of first-degree robbery-murder -- the stuff of death penalties in Arizona.

He's feeling exhilarated at the moment, but Ballentine worries aloud about how he's going to get his murder suspect off the reservation legally.

"We've got to figure out if we're not kidnapping her from this other fucking country if we take her downtown," he says outside the interview room.

But Gila River Sergeant Tanakeyoma persuades Somegustava to sign a waiver of extradition.

The Phoenix detectives have no such issues with Mario Mendoza, who's not Native American. Ballentine asks a Phoenix patrol officer to pick up Mendoza from custody at the casino and deliver him to the downtown police station for an interview.

Ballentine already is fairly certain that Mendoza had nothing to do with Gabe Cruz's demise. He suspects Samantha's boyfriend just had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong woman.

Just before 10 p.m., Samantha is whisked out of a casino back door and put into a tribal police car.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin