HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 4
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She had transferred from another store, where she’d gotten cross-wise with the manager. He was a ladies’ man, who’d slip away afternoons with a woman who came by in a car. He told Wanda that if his wife came looking for him, she should lie for him. Wanda wouldn’t. Sure enough, his wife appeared one afternoon, and the manager was in big trouble. After that, he wanted Wanda out of the store.19

Stange felt he was lucky to get Wanda. For him, the incident at the other store said something about her character.20 He made her assistant manager right after she came.21 Best of all, Wanda could handle the store alone. Other employees got scared and called Stange to come over, but Wanda didn’t; she knew what to do. She followed the rules.22

When it came to robberies, Sigmor had one simple rule, which Stange explained to the investigators years later, linking it to a robber’s psychology. A robber knows, Stange pointed out, that he won’t get much from a convenience store. He just wants to surprise the clerk, grab whatever cash is on hand and leave fast without a lot of people seeing him. What he wants, Stange explained, is “to get in, get out before anyone knows what happened, and go, and disappear.”23

Sigmor’s one rule was to give the guy what he wants.24

Stange described the drill: “[S]omebody comes in—a knife, a gun. They stand on the other side of the counter and ask for the money. The employee opens the cash drawer and gives it to them. They leave. They’re gone.”25

Wanda knew the drill. Stange jokingly acted it out with her. “This is a robbery, I want your money.” She put the money on the counter. “Take it.” Stange was positive Wanda wouldn’t put up a fight. Everything she did was for her daughter. She wanted to do her job and go home. She wouldn’t take chances.26

Besides, Sigmor took care of itself by limiting how much cash was in the drawer. It had a Rules and Regulations card with twenty rules on it. Employees had to initial each one of the rules. When Wanda’s folks sued for damages, a lawyer put Stange’s initialed card in evidence.

Rule 2 said:

$75.00 SHALL BE THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF MONEY NECESSARY TO OPERATE THE CASH DRAWER. DROPS OF $20 WILL BE MADE. THIS MEANS THERE SHALL NEVER BE MORE THAN $75 IN THE DRAWER AT ANY TIME. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE.27

Stange explained that every store had two other places for money besides the cash drawer.28 One was a ‘key safe’ with a few extra $5 and $10 bills, in case the clerk had to make change on a $50 bill, and some rolls of coins. Clerks had a key to that safe.29 Just above the key safe was a drop-slot safe. Clerks couldn’t open that one, but whenever the cash drawer went over the $75 limit, or they got a $20 bill or higher, the money went into the slot.30 “There were times,” Stange said, when “you couldn’t make change. You didn’t have it.”31

“You were especially careful at night,” he said. The later it got, the less you kept in the drawer. If anyone saw a lot of money in the drawer, you were a target.32 At eight or eight-thirty in winter, Stange said, Wanda would’ve had only $60 in bills in the drawer, maybe less.33

* * * * *

Stange is a watcher, a quiet guy who takes everything in and files it neatly in his memory. And his memory is good. Years later, he remembered the Tootsie Roll display on the counter the day Wanda was killed, and the location of the spark plugs and flashlight batteries. Police photos Stange had never seen confirm the details.34

See Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 17:30:30–17:32:50:

Wanda had been given to me or transferred in because she had a run-in with . . . the manager of station number 143 over at Everhart and Holly. She was the assistant manager at that station at that time. [The manager of store 143] was ok, kind of known as a ladies’ man. He liked to play. His wife knew it, and wanted to keep track of him. Wanda had always told [that manager]—this is through her, through Wanda herself telling me this—that she wasn’t going to lie for him. And there was an incident where [the manger] had left the location with—it was some time in the afternoon—with a woman in her car. I don’t know if it was to go to the bank or whatever. But his wife . . . either called or came by the location, and Wanda told her that he wasn’t here. I don’t know if she told her that he left with somebody. . . . [T]he store manager, had asked that she lie or not tell the truth as to his whereabouts. And she didn’t do that for him. At that point, well, naturally [the manger] got in trouble by his wife. And at that point he talked to his supervisor and said, “I don’t want this person [Wanda Lopez] in my store.” And that’s how she came to my location.

See Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 15:22:06–15:22:45, 17:20:00–17:20:42, 17:22:12–17:22:35, 17:32:15–17:32:50 (“Wanda, she was always happy. It was all about her daughter.”; “She was relatively new to me, but we got along very well and I liked her. She was good. She was good with the customers, she cared about what she did. Very conscientious.”; “[Wanda’s relationship with her daughter] was very good. It was the thing that drove her, that made her want to—She wanted a better life for her daughter than she’d gotten at that point. It was all about her daughter.”; “And that’s how she came to my location, was she wouldn’t lie for that particular manager as to his whereabouts or what he was doing. She wouldn’t do that for him. It kind of goes towards her character.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 15:19:45–15:20:27, 15:21:10–15:22:06 (explaining that Wanda was at the SPID location for about three months before she was killed; Stange made her his assistant manager some weeks after she came over from another store).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 15:26:00–15:26:47 (“I had other employees before, and certainly after, who would call me because they were concerned or there was somebody outside or they just didn’t feel right. And I would ultimately go up there and make sure they were ok. But Wanda never expressed that.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 16:40:34–16:41:28 (quoted infra note 25).

Pete Gonzales, Shamrock Gas Station Area Supervisor, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 15, 1983) at 169 (explaining that, in a robbery, Sigmor employees are instructed “to avoid any physical harm” and “go ahead and proceed and give [the robber] the money”);

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 16:38:06–16:39:28; 16:41:28–16:42:22 (“We were told, just ‘Give them the money.’”; “Just give them the money and get them out of the store.”; “You would be instructed to give them anything that was easily accessible, which is, give them the cash in the cash drawer. Give them what you have, and get them out.”).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 16:36:15–16:37:50 (noting that, in a robbery, “You just ask for the money and get it.”);

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 16:40:34–16:42:22:

A robbery typically happens: somebody comes in, a knife, a gun. Generally they stand on the other side of the counter. They ask for the money. The employee opens the cash drawer and gives it to them. And they leave. They’re gone. . . . When someone comes in to rob you, they don’t want witnesses. They don’t want people seeing them. They want to be able to come in, get the money, get out. . . . So the idea is to get in, get out before anybody knows what happened, and go, and disappear. . . . [T]ypically a robber doesn’t want the roll change. They don’t want the physical weight, and they don’t want the wait of having to wait to get the money. They just want to get what’s quick, easy, on hand, so they can leave.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 17:21:05–17:22:08:

If someone was to come in and want to ask or tell her that “This is a robbery, I want your money,” she wouldn’t take that as a joke. She would just hand them the money, or she would just hand them the whole cash drawer, on top of the counter and say, “Take it, just take it, leave.” She wouldn’t try to struggle with anybody or put up a fight. She’s trying to raise her daughter. She wanted to do her job and go home. She would just give them the money. I’m sure of it, without a doubt. I’m sure we discussed it. In a joking manner, she said, “I’ll just give them the whole thing.” I hate to say it like this, but I know we joked about it. Just give it to them, whatever it is.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 17:20:42–17:21:05, 17:22:12–17:22:35 (“No doubt. She would have given . . . absolutely, she would have given them [the money]”; recalling that Wanda’s daughter “was the thing that drove her—She wanted a better life for her daughter than she’d gotten at that point. It was all about her daughter.”);

see Defendant Diamond Shamrock’s Answers to Plaintiffs’ Second Set of Interrogatories, Vargas v. Diamond Shamrock, No. 84–4951-D, 86–5900-D (Nueces Cty., 105th Dist. Tex. Feb. 12, 1987) (Interrogatory 11) (stating that Shamrock employees, including Wanda Lopez, were “cautioned not to resist an armed robbery”);

Dep. of Harry Caldwell at 39, 52–53, former Houston Police Chief and Witness in Civil Suit Against Shamrock, Vargas v. Diamond Shamrock, No. 84–4951-D, 86–5900-D (Tex. Dist. Ct., 105th Dist. Oct. 8, 1987), (“[Mr. Stange] stipulated that he had personally gone over her—gone over with [Wanda Lopez]—the robbery policy pointed out to her, and that they had personally gone over all of the factors that essentially covered the material that was found in the policy that is posted beside the cash register . . . .”; “[T]he best evidence is the evidence of the police, Corpus Christi Police Department, where unlike any other case that I’m familiar with, we know exactly what she said [because of the 911 tape]. She said, take whatever you want—or words to that effect—I won’t give you any problems. This is exactly and precisely what she had been trained to do and exactly and precisely what was recorded by the Corpus Christi Police Department as having been perhaps her last words before she was murdered by this individual.”).

Pl.’s Ex. 29, Vargas v. Diamond Shamrock, No. 84–4951-D, 86–5900-D (Nueces Cty. 105th Dist. Tex. 1988), at 1.

Pete Gonzales, Shamrock Gas Station Area Supervisor, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 15, 1983) at 170–73 (testifying that Wanda’s store had no actual cash register, so clerks had to count change by hand; that the store has three safes, one of which “is a change box”, with reserve change and a key in it most of the time that usually contains “between 20 and $30 worth of silver.”);

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 16:43:38–16:45:00, 16:45:19–16:45:58, 16:47:50–16:48:20 (“[T]here were times when you couldn’t make change because you just didn’t have anything. You weren’t allowed to keep twenties in your drawer. You weren’t supposed to do that. There was a key safe down below that you were allowed to keep change should somebody need to make it.”; “Large bills always were to go in the drop safe. You weren’t to have 20-dollar bills in the drawer. . . . [Y]ou didn’t want to be a target, ‘cause if you gave away a lot of money they were going to come back.”; “As the night goes on, you keep less and less cash. And if it was 8:30, she should have had around 60 dollars in the drawer. . . . The major portion of it would have been in the drop safe. What she needed to make change or to have extra ones, fives, tens on hand, would have been in the key safe below the actual safe.”);

see Defendant Diamond Shamrock’s Answers to Plaintiffs’ Second Set of Interrogatories, Vargas v. Diamond Shamrock, No. 84–4951-D, 86–5900-D (Nueces Cty., 105th Dist. Tex. Feb. 12, 1987) (Interrogatory 11) (stating that Wanda Lopez and other Shamrock employees were “warned to keep minim[al] amounts of cash in register”).

See sources cited supra note 28.

See sources cited supra note 28.

See sources cited supra note 28.

See Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 16:47:50–16:48:20, 16:51:39–16:52:05 (“As the night goes on, you keep less and less cash. And if it was 8:30, she should have had around 60 dollars in the drawer. . . . The major portion of it would have been in the drop safe. What she needed to make change or to have extra ones, fives, tens on hand, would have been in the key safe below the actual safe.”; noting that, at that time of night, Wanda “would have . . . between 40 to 60 [in the drawer], that’s why I stuck with 60 . . . At night, you don’t want to be a target; you don’t want people seeing that you have a lot of money, so you don’t keep much cash on hand.”).

See Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 16:47:50–16:48:20, 16:51:39–16:52:05 (“As the night goes on, you keep less and less cash. And if it was 8:30, she should have had around 60 dollars in the drawer. . . . The major portion of it would have been in the drop safe. What she needed to make change or to have extra ones, fives, tens on hand, would have been in the key safe below the actual safe.”; noting that, at that time of night, Wanda “would have . . . between 40 to 60 [in the drawer], that’s why I stuck with 60 . . . At night, you don’t want to be a target; you don’t want people seeing that you have a lot of money, so you don’t keep much cash on hand.”).

See Crime Scene Photograph 25500003, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983);

Crime Scene Photograph 25500006, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983);

Crime Scene Photograph 25500009, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983);

Crime Scene Photograph 25500021, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983);

Crime Scene Photograph 25500028, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983).

Compare Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 15:27:50–15:29:10, 17:23:20–17:24:00 (“As far as that evening, that day, I can remember leaving the location somewhere in mid to late afternoon. We had a display of Tootsie Rolls. Inside that there was a cardboard backing of a heart, and it was filled with Tootsie Rolls”)

with Crime Scene Photograph 25500013, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) (showing the Tootsie Roll Valentine’s Day display).

Compare also Transcribed Videotape Interview with Robert Stange, Shamrock Gas Station Manager, in Fredericksburg, Texas (Feb. 24, 2005) at 16:53:33–15:54:30 (recalling that “high-theft items like batteries and sparkplugs” were stored “behind the counter”)

with Crime Scene Photograph 25500010, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983)

and Crime Scene Photograph 25500013, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) (photographs of the area behind the counter where the victim and assailant struggled, including blood drops, with box of packages of spark plugs and flashlight batteries, some of them scattered on the ground from the struggle between the victim and the assailant).

Chapter 4
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