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The Long and Dangerous Day

Deanna Fridley’s first trial ended in mistrial. - Image by Nick Morris
Deanna Fridley’s first trial ended in mistrial.

On a mid-December morning in 2007, Deanna Fridley, a 23-year-old housewife, got up and fed her kids, got them dressed, and smoked some meth.

“Midmorning sometime, yes. My cousin came over with some. We smoked it in my car outside…. It had to be before noon that I went to see Amber.”

Amber was Deanna’s best friend.

“She’d been talking with me three days prior to this and kept asking me if I wanted to go out. She knew what was going on between me and my husband. She knew I was very upset. She said, ‘We should go out and have a good time.’ She offered to pay for the babysitter. I had three little daughters.”

The young mother couldn’t go out partying with her little ones, so she drove around to find places to drop them off. “Yes, I had family that would watch them. It’s a small community, everybody knows each other, and each other’s family.”

Cousin Rhonda said she wasn’t feeling good and wouldn’t take the kids. But Aunt Susie agreed to watch the two older girls, but “not the baby.” Deanna next tried cousin Jesrel and his girlfriend. “We went to high school together. Sherman Indian High School.” They took the baby off Deanna’s hands.

Deanna drove to Valley Center where Amber lived. “Yes, I had to pick her up.”

Now the good times could begin.

“We went by Rincon first, kind of cruised by Amber’s cousin’s house. She has lots of cousins. Every home in Rincon is her family. And then we drove to the store. Amber wanted Crown Royal.” Deanna had never drunk Crown Royal, a Canadian whiskey. They also got a liter bottle of cola. “[Amber] mixed some drinks in a Coca-Cola bottle with the Crown Royal. I was sipping out of the bottle.

“We went to cruise around on the back roads. Yeah, just to cruise, listen to music. The back roads are just a bunch of different roads that take you more up into the canyons of the reservations, all around it.”

Later, they went back to buy another bottle of Crown Royal. “Amber wanted some [more], just in case the store closed. We live out there. There’s only one store, and it closes at a certain time.”

The women spent the afternoon together. “We were just riding around, riding around. We went by a few of Amber’s cousins on Rincon and Pala. We went by one of her cousins’, and she used the telephone there.”

Deanna was driving her new Yukon. “It was a Denali, it drove really nice. It handled very well.” She’d had it seven or eight months.

“On every reservation, there’s a ballpark. People, usually, when they are partying, they go to the ballpark, and they spin. Just kind of [driving] around in circles, like, spinning in the dirt.” It was something the friends could do together. “Amber had always spun. I didn’t know how to spin in my truck, she told me how to do it, and I was trying it.”

“We were just, I guess, trying to have fun.” Deanna forgot her troubles with her husband. “Okay, I wasn’t thinking about that right then, probably. I was probably feeling, you know, like we were having a good time.”

Throughout the day, Deanna drove back and forth on Highway 76.

They went to Pala Casino at about 7 o’clock; it was dark by then. They went into one of the bars there. “Yes, we did bring in our own alcohol. I was holding it. Me and Amber were wearing sweatshirts, and she had a Coke bottle that she had already mixed with alcohol, and I was carrying the Crown Royal, the bottle, in my sweater.”

Amber had her own troubles to forget. She was facing felony charges of driving under the influence and had injured three people. “I didn’t know the depth of it at all,” Deanna said. “I didn’t know that until later. She didn’t really talk to me about that. She did tell me that she was in an accident, and she was hurt, and she crawled up the embankment. She told me that she had been on some medication, some pills, and that she was drinking. And she wrecked.”

This is the reason Amber wasn’t driving.

Deanna knew she shouldn’t be driving either. Her license had been suspended since June 2005.

Best Friend Amber

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Amber Arviso said she has known Deanna Fridley “since I’ve been nine.” They spoke and visited together often — “a lot, like, almost every day.” They couldn’t be closer. “I’m godmother to her child.”

When Deanna came over to her house on the afternoon of December 14 of 2007, she’d had a plan: go drink. Why did Deanna want to do that? “Just family problems. Between her and her husband. She needed to talk things out with me.”

They went for a ride. They went to the store. “I was talking to her a little bit.”

After they got a bottle of whiskey, they went to see some of Amber’s relations in Rincon. “My cousin, Dana, that’s about it…[I] used her phone, I used it outside. I called my brother from her phone.” Amber called her brother because they had plans. “We were going to kick back.”

Then Amber and Deanna went driving around another reservation. “Just cruised around Pala. That’s it, driving around. We were just looking for my brother.”

When CHP investigators later spoke with Amber, she said she’d smoked meth with Deanna that day. She said she’d given Deanna $50 to buy it. “Yeah, I had money,” Amber explained.

“Yeah, we smoked it,” Amber said. “We both did.” She said they’d smoked at night, not during the day. She wasn’t sure how many times. “Couple of times.”

Amber thought it was normal to drink and drive around and smoke meth. “Sometimes,” she said. “Not on a daily basis, just once in a while.”

Deanna later denied smoking meth with Amber that day; she did admit to smoking meth once, in the morning, outside her home.

Amber remembered the good times that day. “Yeah, by the baseball fields. Just cruising, no one’s there, just driving around there. No explanation, just cruising, yeah. Listening to music, talking, whatever. Just having fun.”

Amber arranged to meet her brother, Anthony Boles. “I met up with my brother at Pala Casino.” It was between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. They met at one of the bars there. Then they all got into her brother’s car and drove to her younger brother’s house. “Kicked back with my other brother,” Amber said. “Drinking, ate, watched TV. Then we left.”

Did she keep drinking? “Yeah, we all did.”

Then, in the darkness, they again went driving around on the Rincon reservation. “Kicked back on the back roads,” Amber said. “And then I started arguing with my brother.” What did they fight about? “Something stupid, that I was pressing on his car. I was kicking back, listening to music, and then [I] jumped on his car a little bit, because I was drunk. He got mad and we started arguing.”

At the time, Amber weighed almost 400 pounds. “I’m five-seven-and-a-half. I’m big.”

Deanna remembered the end of the argument: “He told her, ‘Well, get out of the car, get out of my car.’ That’s what he was telling her.”

Anthony Boles kicked his sister Amber out of his car at a spot close to a relative’s house.

“It was right up the road from her cousin’s,” Deanna remembered. “She walked there.”

Amber was surprised Deanna didn’t come with her. “She didn’t jump out with me, like, to go with me, so that’s why I got mad for a minute. I felt like she left me somewhere and didn’t take me back where she picked me up at.”

At the Hotel with Anthony

Anthony Boles drove off with Deanna in his car.

“It was just that I decided to leave with him. I don’t know exactly why I made that decision, but I did. I mean, I guess I wanted to get back to Pala. My truck was still down there, and of course, Anthony…we were pretty attracted to each other, yes.”

Years earlier, Anthony had given Deanna some attention. “He flirted with me before. I thought he was just doing it to get his girlfriend angry. Other than that I had seen him here and there. I never hung around with him or talked with him too much.” But the night of December 14 they were together. “He was kind of flirting. I guess we were kind of both interested, yes.”

Deanna said she didn’t have a plan. “Whatever it was with Anthony, it just happened. It wasn’t planned out, or wasn’t because of a certain reason.”

Deanna was 23 then, and 400 pounds. “Yes, I was heavy.” Twenty-four-year-old Anthony Boles was 300 pounds.

“I guess he was, I didn’t know that then,” Deanna said.

Anthony drove down Highway 76 to the Pala Casino and Hotel. “Yes, he got a hotel room. I was with him. It was just a spur-of-the-moment thing, and he got the room. I didn’t ask him to get the room, he just got the room. We didn’t talk about it.”

Hotel surveillance video confirmed that the two went into their room at 11:13 p.m. “Yes, we both went up to the room,” said Deanna, looking unhappy about it.

“We were making out near the bed and just kind of hugging and kissing. I wouldn’t sleep with him. No, we didn’t go any further. He was a little frustrated. He kind of got a little upset.”

Then Amber called. “His sister was calling. Well, she said she wanted us to come get her, and she needed a ride. We had just gotten there, and he didn’t want to go at first.”

Amber confirmed this. “I got on the phone and called my brother to come pick me back up.” But Deanna picked up the cell phone. Amber told her, “You guys need to come get me. I want to go home. Hurry up.” Amber wasn’t happy. “I was telling them to hurry up.”

But Anthony didn’t want to go get Amber. “No, he did not,” said Deanna. “[But] I wanted to go anyway, because I knew it wasn’t going to go any further with him. [So] we both decided we would go get her…we both agreed, he agreed to come.”

Anthony reportedly said, “If I am going, we’re going to take your car. I don’t want to drive.”

Deanna conceded that she said, “I will take my car.”

Hotel security video shows Anthony and Deanna leaving their room at 11:43 p.m.

Outside cameras recorded the two walking up to Deanna’s big black Yukon. “I think the valet brought it up,” said Deanna. “Yes, we both got in. Anthony was with me. We left the casino. I was driving. I was driving in the beginning, yes, I was. Yeah, I thought I could handle it just fine, I guess.”

She turned onto Highway 76. “We came to a stop sign, and we turned right on the highway, and I felt like I was really, really, really not feeling well to drive, and I knew I couldn’t trust myself. I told [Anthony] that, and he said he better drive, he was fine.

“The next dirt road, right up the way, we pulled over to the right, and we switched drivers. Yes, we both got out of the vehicle, went around the front, and switched. He jumped in the driver’s seat.

“When the accident happened, Anthony was driving.

“We left right away. He was going quick down the road. I remember just when he was trying to go in the other lane, I kind of jerked. We were going pretty quick, and I just held on, and I held on, and I remember we were in the other lane, and there was a light, a bright light, and that’s all I remember. I don’t remember what we hit. I don’t remember how it happened exactly.

“I did not go into the other lane. Anthony went into the other lane. I didn’t even know at the time that we were passing cars. I didn’t remember hitting the guardrail. Everything went black.

“I did not crash. Anthony crashed.” When she woke up, “the vehicle was upside down. When this all happened, I remembered little glimpses and pieces, of waking up in the road. I remember trying to move. I was pushing down, my arm felt like rubber, and I was just afraid. I was really afraid, and I was trying to scoot myself as best I could down, trying to get further away from the vehicle. I remember looking back, in back of me. The vehicle was right there, and I remember it was, just it was just really dark. I don’t remember if I seen smoke or a fire or anything like that yet.

“I know I kept blacking out that night.

“I never seen the Camry that night. No, I didn’t know where it was at.

“I remember I was sitting up, yes, I was, I was in the road sitting up.

“I didn’t see the Camry at all. I didn’t see another car. I did not see any bodies.”

Did Deanna see emergency personnel trying to save someone’s life? “No, I didn’t see anybody. I didn’t see nothing like that. There was nothing clearly right in front of me. I didn’t see that. I only looked down at my legs and knew it was night. I didn’t see anybody. There was no body right next to me, I don’t remember seeing a body at all, any bodies.”

Later, Deanna learned the names of the people who were killed in the Toyota Camry.

“Yes, I know who they are now, yes, I do. Jesus De Santiago, Lina De Santiago, Luis Baez, and his wife, Rubi Baez.”

The Cemetery Story

When Deanna and Amber described their travels that day, they remembered going by a cemetery.

“Yes, we drove right by the cemetery on the dirt road going towards the ballfields,” Deanna said. “You have to go through there to get to the back road on the ballfield, on that side of the reservation.”

After the car crash on Highway 76, California Highway Patrol officer Jeffrey Jenkins interviewed Deanna at the hospital. “I spoke with her at approximately 1:50 a.m. That would be roughly two hours after the collision occurred.” He found Deanna Fridley at Palomar Medical Center “in the emergency room. She was in the course of being evaluated by medical staff.”

“She was coherent enough to provide a statement to me,” said Officer Jenkins. And, he noticed, “She obviously had the odor of alcohol on her breath.”

Jenkins said Deanna told him, without prompting, that she was not the driver. “She related to me immediately that she was the right front passenger when the collision occurred.”

The officer put in his report that Deanna told him she and Anthony left the hotel and she “began traveling eastbound on State Route 76.”

“As she was driving, she related that Mr. Boles was angry with a family member and was upset over an argument earlier. As she drove, she decided to stop at a cemetery next to the mission.” The officer was aware that the old mission and its cemetery were several turns off the main highway, in a more secluded area.

Deanna told the officer that they stopped for a while at the cemetery. She may have told the officer she drank a beer there. “Then,” the officer reported, “she decided not to drive any further from the cemetery. The crash occurred after Mr. Boles had started driving.”

Later, prosecutors developed a timeline that showed it was not possible to make this side trip, this detour off the main highway. Cameras recorded the time that the Yukon left the hotel, and 911 calls from eyewitnesses established the time of the crash. The time from hotel to crash site was only three minutes or so, and the possible time variance could be only seconds.

Did the officer think it was odd, Deanna’s story about a side trip off the highway?

“I am documenting what she’s saying to me. I am writing what an individual says,” stated Officer Jenkins. “She can say she’s gone anywhere.”

But don’t you confront persons who give you an implausible story? “Normally, I will document what they say, and the physical evidence will prove them wrong,” Officer Jenkins stated, for the record.

It Was a Blur for a While

These days, Deanna cannot remember certain parts of her hospital stay.

“When I was in the hospital? Okay, I hardly remember some of the things that we talked about. I was on a lot of medication.”

After the crash, Deanna had at least five surgeries. “So far, five. I need some more. I had some shattered bones on my femur, on the right side of my body. Broken hand.” It was painful. “They had me on a number of different medications, Dilantin, I believe. Through surgery, morphine.”

Did she speak to a California Highway Patrol officer in the hospital, after 1:00 a.m., early on the morning of December 15?

“I guess I did. I don’t even remember this. On the fifteenth? I don’t remember ever speaking with him. Maybe we did speak.”

Did she tell an investigator that she pulled over at a cemetery after they left the hotel?

“I don’t know. I don’t remember speaking with him. I know we pulled over at the cemetery to get to the back roads earlier, me and Amber. It’s way over there on a whole another highway road, yes, going through the reservation.”

At her criminal trial more than two years later, Deanna was offered the chance to review the officer’s written report of their interview. “I could see it, yes,” said Deanna. After she looked at the report, she told the jury, “I don’t remember this.”

Deanna insisted, “I don’t remember speaking to him.” She claimed no memory of Officer Jenkins in the hospital at all. “Yes, I never met him. I don’t know who he is. I have never seen him before, until he testified here the other day.”

Deanna said she was so sedated, she could not remember her first week in the hospital. “I didn’t even remember Christmas, really, no, I don’t.”

What was her first memory after she went to the hospital?

“I guess seeing my mom right beside me, maybe right after Christmas. No, it might have been right before Christmas. Actually, I am sorry, the whole thing is really...it was a blur for a while.”

During the trial in the summer of 2010, the prosecutor described her theory that Deanna had realized, immediately after the crash, that cameras and witnesses would put her in the driver’s seat when her car left the hotel. So she’d needed to come up with a story that would put Anthony Boles in the driver’s seat. Deanna told the CHP officer about a remote place — the cemetery — where they could have switched places without any witnesses. Only later did Deanna realize that the tight timeline between leaving the hotel and the crash, factoring in the distance traveled, would not allow for the switch at the cemetery.

While she had the defendant in the witness box, deputy district attorney Brenda Daly tried to get Deanna to confess to manufacturing the story.

“You knew you were on video, right?”

“When? What do you mean?” Deanna looked startled. Her voice rose. “No, I didn’t know I was on video, I wasn’t thinking of that.”

Looking back, Deanna admitted she shouldn’t have been drinking and driving.

“Yes, I am well aware of that. It was wrong. It was very wrong. You know, you can never go back, there’s nothing you can do. You can’t go back.”

Anthony Boles has always maintained that he was the passenger in Deanna’s Yukon when it crashed.

Deanna Fridley’s first trial, which took place in June and July of 2010, ended in a mistrial, the jury couldn’t come to agreement. Fridley was scheduled for a retrial in January 2012, charged again with four second-degree murders. During jury selection, Fridley interrupted proceedings to plead guilty. In the plea deal, she admitted four counts of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and one count of driving while intoxicated and causing great bodily injury upon Anthony Boles. Deanna Fridley has been in custody more than four years, since the crash on December 14 2007, and expects to be sentenced to 18 years in prison on February 22 before Judge Maino. ■

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Deanna Fridley’s first trial ended in mistrial. - Image by Nick Morris
Deanna Fridley’s first trial ended in mistrial.

On a mid-December morning in 2007, Deanna Fridley, a 23-year-old housewife, got up and fed her kids, got them dressed, and smoked some meth.

“Midmorning sometime, yes. My cousin came over with some. We smoked it in my car outside…. It had to be before noon that I went to see Amber.”

Amber was Deanna’s best friend.

“She’d been talking with me three days prior to this and kept asking me if I wanted to go out. She knew what was going on between me and my husband. She knew I was very upset. She said, ‘We should go out and have a good time.’ She offered to pay for the babysitter. I had three little daughters.”

The young mother couldn’t go out partying with her little ones, so she drove around to find places to drop them off. “Yes, I had family that would watch them. It’s a small community, everybody knows each other, and each other’s family.”

Cousin Rhonda said she wasn’t feeling good and wouldn’t take the kids. But Aunt Susie agreed to watch the two older girls, but “not the baby.” Deanna next tried cousin Jesrel and his girlfriend. “We went to high school together. Sherman Indian High School.” They took the baby off Deanna’s hands.

Deanna drove to Valley Center where Amber lived. “Yes, I had to pick her up.”

Now the good times could begin.

“We went by Rincon first, kind of cruised by Amber’s cousin’s house. She has lots of cousins. Every home in Rincon is her family. And then we drove to the store. Amber wanted Crown Royal.” Deanna had never drunk Crown Royal, a Canadian whiskey. They also got a liter bottle of cola. “[Amber] mixed some drinks in a Coca-Cola bottle with the Crown Royal. I was sipping out of the bottle.

“We went to cruise around on the back roads. Yeah, just to cruise, listen to music. The back roads are just a bunch of different roads that take you more up into the canyons of the reservations, all around it.”

Later, they went back to buy another bottle of Crown Royal. “Amber wanted some [more], just in case the store closed. We live out there. There’s only one store, and it closes at a certain time.”

The women spent the afternoon together. “We were just riding around, riding around. We went by a few of Amber’s cousins on Rincon and Pala. We went by one of her cousins’, and she used the telephone there.”

Deanna was driving her new Yukon. “It was a Denali, it drove really nice. It handled very well.” She’d had it seven or eight months.

“On every reservation, there’s a ballpark. People, usually, when they are partying, they go to the ballpark, and they spin. Just kind of [driving] around in circles, like, spinning in the dirt.” It was something the friends could do together. “Amber had always spun. I didn’t know how to spin in my truck, she told me how to do it, and I was trying it.”

“We were just, I guess, trying to have fun.” Deanna forgot her troubles with her husband. “Okay, I wasn’t thinking about that right then, probably. I was probably feeling, you know, like we were having a good time.”

Throughout the day, Deanna drove back and forth on Highway 76.

They went to Pala Casino at about 7 o’clock; it was dark by then. They went into one of the bars there. “Yes, we did bring in our own alcohol. I was holding it. Me and Amber were wearing sweatshirts, and she had a Coke bottle that she had already mixed with alcohol, and I was carrying the Crown Royal, the bottle, in my sweater.”

Amber had her own troubles to forget. She was facing felony charges of driving under the influence and had injured three people. “I didn’t know the depth of it at all,” Deanna said. “I didn’t know that until later. She didn’t really talk to me about that. She did tell me that she was in an accident, and she was hurt, and she crawled up the embankment. She told me that she had been on some medication, some pills, and that she was drinking. And she wrecked.”

This is the reason Amber wasn’t driving.

Deanna knew she shouldn’t be driving either. Her license had been suspended since June 2005.

Best Friend Amber

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Amber Arviso said she has known Deanna Fridley “since I’ve been nine.” They spoke and visited together often — “a lot, like, almost every day.” They couldn’t be closer. “I’m godmother to her child.”

When Deanna came over to her house on the afternoon of December 14 of 2007, she’d had a plan: go drink. Why did Deanna want to do that? “Just family problems. Between her and her husband. She needed to talk things out with me.”

They went for a ride. They went to the store. “I was talking to her a little bit.”

After they got a bottle of whiskey, they went to see some of Amber’s relations in Rincon. “My cousin, Dana, that’s about it…[I] used her phone, I used it outside. I called my brother from her phone.” Amber called her brother because they had plans. “We were going to kick back.”

Then Amber and Deanna went driving around another reservation. “Just cruised around Pala. That’s it, driving around. We were just looking for my brother.”

When CHP investigators later spoke with Amber, she said she’d smoked meth with Deanna that day. She said she’d given Deanna $50 to buy it. “Yeah, I had money,” Amber explained.

“Yeah, we smoked it,” Amber said. “We both did.” She said they’d smoked at night, not during the day. She wasn’t sure how many times. “Couple of times.”

Amber thought it was normal to drink and drive around and smoke meth. “Sometimes,” she said. “Not on a daily basis, just once in a while.”

Deanna later denied smoking meth with Amber that day; she did admit to smoking meth once, in the morning, outside her home.

Amber remembered the good times that day. “Yeah, by the baseball fields. Just cruising, no one’s there, just driving around there. No explanation, just cruising, yeah. Listening to music, talking, whatever. Just having fun.”

Amber arranged to meet her brother, Anthony Boles. “I met up with my brother at Pala Casino.” It was between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. They met at one of the bars there. Then they all got into her brother’s car and drove to her younger brother’s house. “Kicked back with my other brother,” Amber said. “Drinking, ate, watched TV. Then we left.”

Did she keep drinking? “Yeah, we all did.”

Then, in the darkness, they again went driving around on the Rincon reservation. “Kicked back on the back roads,” Amber said. “And then I started arguing with my brother.” What did they fight about? “Something stupid, that I was pressing on his car. I was kicking back, listening to music, and then [I] jumped on his car a little bit, because I was drunk. He got mad and we started arguing.”

At the time, Amber weighed almost 400 pounds. “I’m five-seven-and-a-half. I’m big.”

Deanna remembered the end of the argument: “He told her, ‘Well, get out of the car, get out of my car.’ That’s what he was telling her.”

Anthony Boles kicked his sister Amber out of his car at a spot close to a relative’s house.

“It was right up the road from her cousin’s,” Deanna remembered. “She walked there.”

Amber was surprised Deanna didn’t come with her. “She didn’t jump out with me, like, to go with me, so that’s why I got mad for a minute. I felt like she left me somewhere and didn’t take me back where she picked me up at.”

At the Hotel with Anthony

Anthony Boles drove off with Deanna in his car.

“It was just that I decided to leave with him. I don’t know exactly why I made that decision, but I did. I mean, I guess I wanted to get back to Pala. My truck was still down there, and of course, Anthony…we were pretty attracted to each other, yes.”

Years earlier, Anthony had given Deanna some attention. “He flirted with me before. I thought he was just doing it to get his girlfriend angry. Other than that I had seen him here and there. I never hung around with him or talked with him too much.” But the night of December 14 they were together. “He was kind of flirting. I guess we were kind of both interested, yes.”

Deanna said she didn’t have a plan. “Whatever it was with Anthony, it just happened. It wasn’t planned out, or wasn’t because of a certain reason.”

Deanna was 23 then, and 400 pounds. “Yes, I was heavy.” Twenty-four-year-old Anthony Boles was 300 pounds.

“I guess he was, I didn’t know that then,” Deanna said.

Anthony drove down Highway 76 to the Pala Casino and Hotel. “Yes, he got a hotel room. I was with him. It was just a spur-of-the-moment thing, and he got the room. I didn’t ask him to get the room, he just got the room. We didn’t talk about it.”

Hotel surveillance video confirmed that the two went into their room at 11:13 p.m. “Yes, we both went up to the room,” said Deanna, looking unhappy about it.

“We were making out near the bed and just kind of hugging and kissing. I wouldn’t sleep with him. No, we didn’t go any further. He was a little frustrated. He kind of got a little upset.”

Then Amber called. “His sister was calling. Well, she said she wanted us to come get her, and she needed a ride. We had just gotten there, and he didn’t want to go at first.”

Amber confirmed this. “I got on the phone and called my brother to come pick me back up.” But Deanna picked up the cell phone. Amber told her, “You guys need to come get me. I want to go home. Hurry up.” Amber wasn’t happy. “I was telling them to hurry up.”

But Anthony didn’t want to go get Amber. “No, he did not,” said Deanna. “[But] I wanted to go anyway, because I knew it wasn’t going to go any further with him. [So] we both decided we would go get her…we both agreed, he agreed to come.”

Anthony reportedly said, “If I am going, we’re going to take your car. I don’t want to drive.”

Deanna conceded that she said, “I will take my car.”

Hotel security video shows Anthony and Deanna leaving their room at 11:43 p.m.

Outside cameras recorded the two walking up to Deanna’s big black Yukon. “I think the valet brought it up,” said Deanna. “Yes, we both got in. Anthony was with me. We left the casino. I was driving. I was driving in the beginning, yes, I was. Yeah, I thought I could handle it just fine, I guess.”

She turned onto Highway 76. “We came to a stop sign, and we turned right on the highway, and I felt like I was really, really, really not feeling well to drive, and I knew I couldn’t trust myself. I told [Anthony] that, and he said he better drive, he was fine.

“The next dirt road, right up the way, we pulled over to the right, and we switched drivers. Yes, we both got out of the vehicle, went around the front, and switched. He jumped in the driver’s seat.

“When the accident happened, Anthony was driving.

“We left right away. He was going quick down the road. I remember just when he was trying to go in the other lane, I kind of jerked. We were going pretty quick, and I just held on, and I held on, and I remember we were in the other lane, and there was a light, a bright light, and that’s all I remember. I don’t remember what we hit. I don’t remember how it happened exactly.

“I did not go into the other lane. Anthony went into the other lane. I didn’t even know at the time that we were passing cars. I didn’t remember hitting the guardrail. Everything went black.

“I did not crash. Anthony crashed.” When she woke up, “the vehicle was upside down. When this all happened, I remembered little glimpses and pieces, of waking up in the road. I remember trying to move. I was pushing down, my arm felt like rubber, and I was just afraid. I was really afraid, and I was trying to scoot myself as best I could down, trying to get further away from the vehicle. I remember looking back, in back of me. The vehicle was right there, and I remember it was, just it was just really dark. I don’t remember if I seen smoke or a fire or anything like that yet.

“I know I kept blacking out that night.

“I never seen the Camry that night. No, I didn’t know where it was at.

“I remember I was sitting up, yes, I was, I was in the road sitting up.

“I didn’t see the Camry at all. I didn’t see another car. I did not see any bodies.”

Did Deanna see emergency personnel trying to save someone’s life? “No, I didn’t see anybody. I didn’t see nothing like that. There was nothing clearly right in front of me. I didn’t see that. I only looked down at my legs and knew it was night. I didn’t see anybody. There was no body right next to me, I don’t remember seeing a body at all, any bodies.”

Later, Deanna learned the names of the people who were killed in the Toyota Camry.

“Yes, I know who they are now, yes, I do. Jesus De Santiago, Lina De Santiago, Luis Baez, and his wife, Rubi Baez.”

The Cemetery Story

When Deanna and Amber described their travels that day, they remembered going by a cemetery.

“Yes, we drove right by the cemetery on the dirt road going towards the ballfields,” Deanna said. “You have to go through there to get to the back road on the ballfield, on that side of the reservation.”

After the car crash on Highway 76, California Highway Patrol officer Jeffrey Jenkins interviewed Deanna at the hospital. “I spoke with her at approximately 1:50 a.m. That would be roughly two hours after the collision occurred.” He found Deanna Fridley at Palomar Medical Center “in the emergency room. She was in the course of being evaluated by medical staff.”

“She was coherent enough to provide a statement to me,” said Officer Jenkins. And, he noticed, “She obviously had the odor of alcohol on her breath.”

Jenkins said Deanna told him, without prompting, that she was not the driver. “She related to me immediately that she was the right front passenger when the collision occurred.”

The officer put in his report that Deanna told him she and Anthony left the hotel and she “began traveling eastbound on State Route 76.”

“As she was driving, she related that Mr. Boles was angry with a family member and was upset over an argument earlier. As she drove, she decided to stop at a cemetery next to the mission.” The officer was aware that the old mission and its cemetery were several turns off the main highway, in a more secluded area.

Deanna told the officer that they stopped for a while at the cemetery. She may have told the officer she drank a beer there. “Then,” the officer reported, “she decided not to drive any further from the cemetery. The crash occurred after Mr. Boles had started driving.”

Later, prosecutors developed a timeline that showed it was not possible to make this side trip, this detour off the main highway. Cameras recorded the time that the Yukon left the hotel, and 911 calls from eyewitnesses established the time of the crash. The time from hotel to crash site was only three minutes or so, and the possible time variance could be only seconds.

Did the officer think it was odd, Deanna’s story about a side trip off the highway?

“I am documenting what she’s saying to me. I am writing what an individual says,” stated Officer Jenkins. “She can say she’s gone anywhere.”

But don’t you confront persons who give you an implausible story? “Normally, I will document what they say, and the physical evidence will prove them wrong,” Officer Jenkins stated, for the record.

It Was a Blur for a While

These days, Deanna cannot remember certain parts of her hospital stay.

“When I was in the hospital? Okay, I hardly remember some of the things that we talked about. I was on a lot of medication.”

After the crash, Deanna had at least five surgeries. “So far, five. I need some more. I had some shattered bones on my femur, on the right side of my body. Broken hand.” It was painful. “They had me on a number of different medications, Dilantin, I believe. Through surgery, morphine.”

Did she speak to a California Highway Patrol officer in the hospital, after 1:00 a.m., early on the morning of December 15?

“I guess I did. I don’t even remember this. On the fifteenth? I don’t remember ever speaking with him. Maybe we did speak.”

Did she tell an investigator that she pulled over at a cemetery after they left the hotel?

“I don’t know. I don’t remember speaking with him. I know we pulled over at the cemetery to get to the back roads earlier, me and Amber. It’s way over there on a whole another highway road, yes, going through the reservation.”

At her criminal trial more than two years later, Deanna was offered the chance to review the officer’s written report of their interview. “I could see it, yes,” said Deanna. After she looked at the report, she told the jury, “I don’t remember this.”

Deanna insisted, “I don’t remember speaking to him.” She claimed no memory of Officer Jenkins in the hospital at all. “Yes, I never met him. I don’t know who he is. I have never seen him before, until he testified here the other day.”

Deanna said she was so sedated, she could not remember her first week in the hospital. “I didn’t even remember Christmas, really, no, I don’t.”

What was her first memory after she went to the hospital?

“I guess seeing my mom right beside me, maybe right after Christmas. No, it might have been right before Christmas. Actually, I am sorry, the whole thing is really...it was a blur for a while.”

During the trial in the summer of 2010, the prosecutor described her theory that Deanna had realized, immediately after the crash, that cameras and witnesses would put her in the driver’s seat when her car left the hotel. So she’d needed to come up with a story that would put Anthony Boles in the driver’s seat. Deanna told the CHP officer about a remote place — the cemetery — where they could have switched places without any witnesses. Only later did Deanna realize that the tight timeline between leaving the hotel and the crash, factoring in the distance traveled, would not allow for the switch at the cemetery.

While she had the defendant in the witness box, deputy district attorney Brenda Daly tried to get Deanna to confess to manufacturing the story.

“You knew you were on video, right?”

“When? What do you mean?” Deanna looked startled. Her voice rose. “No, I didn’t know I was on video, I wasn’t thinking of that.”

Looking back, Deanna admitted she shouldn’t have been drinking and driving.

“Yes, I am well aware of that. It was wrong. It was very wrong. You know, you can never go back, there’s nothing you can do. You can’t go back.”

Anthony Boles has always maintained that he was the passenger in Deanna’s Yukon when it crashed.

Deanna Fridley’s first trial, which took place in June and July of 2010, ended in a mistrial, the jury couldn’t come to agreement. Fridley was scheduled for a retrial in January 2012, charged again with four second-degree murders. During jury selection, Fridley interrupted proceedings to plead guilty. In the plea deal, she admitted four counts of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and one count of driving while intoxicated and causing great bodily injury upon Anthony Boles. Deanna Fridley has been in custody more than four years, since the crash on December 14 2007, and expects to be sentenced to 18 years in prison on February 22 before Judge Maino. ■

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