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Was so alive to hear that news and realizing that it's Amber. How could that be? Her life was just beginning. Amber made friends.






There was.


Just no trying with our friendship.


It just was. But that life didn't last long.


Amber is on the floor, face down, and she has a plastic bag wrapped around.


Her head. The tills open, the doors open. Most people that rob a store don't kill anybody.


The whole world just died right there.


For months, the murder stayed calm.


Didn't have witnesses, didn't have video, didn't have DNA. We had everything going.


Against us. We'd go down and talk to the detective. We wouldn't let it go. Then a break.


Another victim. He would ductate me. He'd ductate.


My mouth. And she knew a secret. Could she risk revealing it?


Something's going to.


Happen tonight. A killer ready to run, face to face with a one person who might be able to stop him.


He just reached over the club compartment. He pulled out the gun. He said, At least don't kill me. I wanted to get out of there.


I'm alive. I'm Lester Holt, and this is Date Live. Here's Keith Morrison with everything she knew. It was a Monday morning in January 2007, 09:08 AM. A young woman in San Antonio texted her boyfriend, I love you. That's all it said. I love you. Nothing more. Downtown, the Alamo had just opened its doors. A few tourists began boarding little boats to gaze at remnants of Texas history along urban stretches of the San Antonio River. And several miles away in the farther reaches of the modern city, the manager of a video game store began his daily ritual. His name was Mariano Rivera.


The store opens at 10:00, but the managers typically get there at 9:00 in the morning, get the tills ready, grab the money, take it with you, and go to the bank.


Similar process in the sister's store. Same company, not far away. That one managed by the woman who sent the text to her boyfriend. Except this was strange. As the mornings that by her store remained closed. Mariano got a call from the district manager.


Can you go over there? Maybe you can see something. You see what's going on.


He did. He saw a white car in the parking lot looked like the young woman's car. He peered into the store window. Nobody there.


And I thought, Man, this is strange. Like, where is she? So I kept calling nothing.


Her name was Amber Belkin. Tiny, just 5, 200 pounds, but energetic, ambitious, and very much in charge.


She was a firecracker. That's the easiest way to put it.


Matt Pina is in Texas politics nowadays, but back then, he worked in Amber Belkin's store.


She would let you know what she wanted, but I think she was one of the kindest souls ever that I've ever met. So I guess it depended on what side you met her on and how much you made her mad. She could be tough. Oh, most certainly. She loved her job. She did.


Monica Peck and Ashley Floris were Amber's best friends. Was she cut out to be a manager?


Yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. She was fierce. But she still was friendly. She loved all her employees, and she loved all of her customers. She was only 25. She was a store manager. And so it was a very good sense of she's doing it. She's making something of her life. Like she had goals, she had ambitions, and then she wanted to go back to school. She wanted all of it.


Not that she set out to work in a game store. She wanted to be a veterinarian.


She was just so loving. We couldn't pass a turtle on the road. She had to turn around and pick it up and take it to her house. She would find these random animals on the side of the road. It was like, How did you find that animal?


Like her little dog, buddy, and her parents, Lee and Randy.


She actually.


Ran for buddy across the expressway, and the.


Hair was all matted up, looked like Dreadlocks. And she said, Well, I can't put it back out on the road. She's a little.


Bit killed. I just opened the door, let it in. Amber was their only child. They doted on her from the day she was born, and she was good in return.


She helped anybody that needed it. They didn't even have to ask. She was going to make sure that you were protected.


But now, where was Amber? Why was her store not open? Why didn't she answer the phone? Early afternoon, still no sign of Amber. So again, the district manager called Mariano.


Something is just strange.


And sent him back for a second look. So again, Mariano looked in through the big front window. But this time he saw someone. Amber's assistant manager, Brandon, just standing there behind the counter.


I knock on the door, and so he lets me in, and I said, Brandon, have you seen Amber? He's like, No. He goes, But something is strange. There's money on the floor. It looks like there's some struggle or something happened. Something, things got knocked over. My first thought was, What's Amber? And so he said he did know. And of course, right away I'm thinking, What is going on with this guy? He clearly sees there's something wrong. He must have not recognized the car. I'm thinking, That's her car outside. You see it. You see there's things in the floor. Why haven't you react it right away and call someone or check the rest of the store?


But he hadn't. So Mariano ran to the back office, the only other room of the store. Not a moment he'll ever forget, not for the rest of his life.


And when I run to the back, I find that Amber is on the floor, face down, and she has a plastic bag wrapped around her head. And instantly, I knew what happened.


One mystery solved.


Amber was no.


Longer missing, but a much bigger mystery remained. When we return.


Most people that rob a store don't kill anybody.


Maybe the robbery was just a cover for murder. He had the.


Classic motive that does seem personal. There are.


Some things which, once seen, can never be unseen. Amber Belkin sprawled in death in the back office of a video game store, her head wrapped in a plastic bag. Mariano Rivera dialed 911. His mind a horrified confusion. He stare at Amber's assistant manager, Brandon Beale.


I was angry. I was upset. And then I'm looking at Brandon like, I don't understand how did this happen. And I don't want to blame anybody, but your first thought is, Who is around? Who can you look at and say? Maybe he had something to do with it.


It's going to be a pretty shocking thing to discover.


I mean, it's hard to describe. You just have a million emotions just running through, and you just don't know what to make of them.


The police came, took one look, and called San Antonio police detective, Raymond Ray Bob Roberts.


It looks like a robbery gone bad, stores in disarray. The clerk is found in the back office. She's dead. Try to get some information. Are there any witnesses? No, sir. So you tell them, Hold the scene down. Get the crime scene detectives out there.


The news, ind distinct, unconfirmed, spread through the Texas afternoon somebody dead in Amber's store. But most people did not know who, including Amber's father, as he headed over there.




Jumped in my truck and I called a friend of mine who was a defense attorney, and I said, I need you to call anybody that you can and see what you can find out. And I was just about there and he called me and he said, Well, how far are you from here? And that's when he realized it wasn't that Amber found someone dead.


They found her. My knees just buckled and I just… My whole world just died right there.


It's a pretty dreadful feeling, isn't it?


It's the worst feeling in the world because you totally realize no one can fix this. Nobody can bring her back.


Not for them. Not for her friends.


And then everything just stopped. Disbelief. Disbelief. Your Earth shatters. I sat on the curve and cried. Everything around me was just a blur.


Inside the store, Detective Roberts had to look around.


There's a bunch of DVD games on the ground. Where the cash register was right there by the front. The tills open, the doors open, there's some change just laying around. There's more DVDs on the ground in the back.


Like somebody came in and ransacked it.


And took off. He ransacked the place.


Took off, yeah. He went round to the back alley. Was this an escape route?


Probably stacked all the games up here. Either had their car here in the alley or had it parked over there. Put the boxes out here and picked them up.


You wouldn't think robbing a game store would be worth killing somebody in the process.


You wouldn't think you bet it would rob a game store. Yeah, normally during robberies, it's just a robbery. There's no murder.


And this was certainly a robbery given the mess and the empty safe.


We checked the bank. There was no deposit made for that morning. There was $1,900 stolen, three or four big video games, PlayStations and PS-3s, and DVD games. All that was taken.


The haul totaled just under $6,000. Maybe the store surveillance cameras could tell the detective who took it.


Except… There's no surveillance video in the store. There is none in the strip center that the store is located in. There's no video anywhere. There was video at the Starbucks next door, but it only showed the front door. And that's it. You don't see anything.


Who would know that? Who would know it was the video game company's only store in San Antonio not equipped with cameras? Answer was obvious thought the detective. An employee would know, just like an employee would know Amber hadn't taken the cash to the bank yet. Then Mariano told the detective about encountering Brandon and that he couldn't understand why Brandon didn't look for Amber until he, Mariano, arrived.


His first thought should have been, I think there might have been a robbery. Let me make sure first of all, the robbers are not still in here and can hurt me. But also, let me see where Amber is.


Just what the detective was thinking. He talked to Amber's coworkers. They said she had issues with Brandon.


They had.


Never learned.


To work together yet. And it's just when you have a guy like that who's not really the same type of attitude or the personality that the rest of us were, it causes some problems.


Did she trust him?


I don't know. I think in some instances with some things, no.


Even Amber's parents said they knew she was dissatisfied with Brandon.


Because she had written them up.


She'd prepared a negative work review. She was going to turn it in that day.


It's just his last chance, mom. She said, I can't allow him to continue to make these mistakes.


So motive, opportunity, behavior that didn't seem innocent. I mean, he had the classic motive. He didn't want.


Her to write them up.


He didn't want to get fired.


He didn't want to get fired.


Well, this seemed like a personal crime, huh?


It could have been. Most people that go in the robber store don't go with the intentions of killing anybody. They just go in there, do the robbery, and leave. Putting a plastic bag on her head.


-squeezing it tight and holding it.


That way. -squeezing it tight. It takes four or five minutes, probably. It takes a commitment. Yeah, no kidding. I know she's struggling. She's just not laying there. But that takes a while. So that takes… It does seem personal.


They had Brandon in the back seat of a patrol car. Detective went to talk to him.


He tells me a story, and it's just not making any sense.


So he had Brandon taken downtown and questioned by a colleague known for her special interviewing skills.


She's a real good detective. She has a way with getting stuff out of people. About an hour later, I'm still at the scene. She calls me back, says, Yeah, something's up with this guy.


Coming up, Amber's parents were convinced it was Brandon. Everything pointed to him. Would that explain what Amber's mom says she.


Saw at the funeral? He put one of the GameStop tag holders that had their ID on it. He put one of those in her casket.


When Dateline continues. It was four days after that awful morning in the video game store. Amber Belkin's funeral was huge, as if in death she had been adopted by the community around her.


Over 600 people and the ones that couldn't get into the chapel waited in the lobby and in the parking lot.


Is that a comfort?


A very big comfort that she touched that many lives.


They loved Amber.


They said, We love Amber. I did.


As Amber's parents watched, they could not stop seeing in their heads another scene, the one in the back room of the video game store, the way she was killed. It told me it was personal.


She had to be so frightened. And when she tried to pick up the phone, I know it was to call us. And he yanked the phone out of the wall.


Was it Brandon Beale? By the day of the funeral, they were sure.


We definitely thought Brandon did it.


Everything pointed to him. And then as mourners filed by to pay their respects, suddenly, there he was at the funeral in front of them. Brandon Beale. Did you think, My God, her killer has come to the funeral?


Oh, he came in and shook my hand and I got up and my knees just felt weak and I just fell.


Then said Amber's mother, she was sure she saw Brandon walk right up to the casket and put something into it.


He put one of the GameStop.




Holders that had their ID on it. He put one of those in her casket. And I got that thing out of there as fast as I could and put it in a tissue and put it in my purse because I thought that's the last thing I want buried with my daughter.


Was that ID potential evidence, she wondered? Was Brandon trying to bury evidence with Amber's body?


So Mom was on automatically thinking, Brandon did.


It's got to be Brandon. A week after the murder, Detective Roberts questioned Brandon on videotape.


I'm going back over. Everybody we talked to try to figure this thing out.


Brandon repeated the story he'd been telling from the start. He was nowhere near the store that morning.


I just got up, let my dog out. March, fourth, 6:00. Then at 9:45, I left because I had to go help my fiancé's parents move on to this big island that goes in the kitchen. He didn't get to.


The store, he said, until after 2:00 PM for afternoon shift. And when he got there, he insisted it was still closed. So he panicked. Was he supposed to open that morning?


I'm about to put my stuff in so I can check the computer.


He looks around and sees the DVDs on the floor, the cashier's drawer open. He sees all this and thought, Hmm. So he starts going about to open the store. He thought, Hmm? Yeah. So he's not looking for Amber or not looking for anybody that's supposed to be working.


Brandon told Detective Roberts he had no idea Amber was in the store. No idea Amber intended to submit a negative work review about him that very day. Didn't notice her car in the parking lot, he said. Didn't think the obvious mess in the store meant they'd been robbed. Wait a minute. You saw the disarray. If an employee saw the disarray… A.


Normal person you would think would go in and start looking something's up.


Something's wrong here. Yeah. So Robert's got a search warrant for Brandon's house and car. Maybe they'd find some of the stolen DVDs and game consoles there. They did not. But there had to be something. For weeks, the detective looked for evidence on Brandon Beale.


Randy and Mama called me 24-7 every day, two, three times a day. Brandon is Brandon, Brandon, and Brandon, Brandon.


Detectives questioned his fiancé, her parents. They scoured his phone records.


We did everything we could to try to get some evidence on Brandon, and there was none there. There was none there because he didn't do it.


That alibi about helping his fiancé's parents checked out, and his phone records revealed he was miles from the store when Amber was murdered. Finally, Brandon Beale was cleared. Did you at some point, think, I'm going to be charged with murder?


Yes, I did.


The memory's still fresh.


I had nightmares of going to jail.


It was.


Hard for me to sleep.


That terrible day?


My whole thought process was, Let me get this store open because….


I think I screwed up.


Right, I screwed up.


Why didn't he notice they'd been robbed?


Some stores are a little messier than others.


Sure. So maybe that meant that whoever was on the night before didn't put things away.


That was my thought process, totally opposite of, Hey, there's somebody dead here. There was.


A robbery. Brandon was 23 then, and terrified.


I'm just thinking, just... They're really just trying to put this on this young black man.


When they questioned his fiancé.


They were trying to convince her that I did it. They would say things to her like, How can you.


Sleep with a murderer?


You know, he did it. You know.


You're possibly next.


When they searched his house.


It seemed like a scene on the movie. Just when going through drawers, throwing her clothes, they left my.


House at wreck. Even when he was finally cleared, he said no one told him. Nor, he said, was he told Amber had written them up, though he agreed they hadn't always seen eye to eye on some things. And until we spoke with him, he said. He had no idea Amber's mother believed she saw him put something into Amber's coffin.


Did you.


Walk over to the casket and put in a lanyard or something?


That's the most absurd thing I've heard. No. No. That was my very first funeral, so I didn't even get that close to the casket.


But Brandon is a father now. So he told us he thinks of Amber's parents and understands.


I couldn't imagine losing one of my children.


But if Brandon Beale didn't kill Amber Belkin, then who did? Coming up.


I'm sitting at the office and the phone rings.


A caller reluctant to give his name, but gives up someone else's.


I said, Well, I know who killed this girl.


That Brandon Beale did not kill his boss, Amber Belcombe, was very clear, which meant that Detective Ray Bob Roberts had a big problem.


We had everything going against us. Didn't have witnesses, didn't have video, didn't have DNA, didn't have fingerprints, didn't have nothing.


He went public then, had to.


We held a big news conference with the parents, mom and dad, pleading for help. Crime stoppers put up a lot of money. Nothing. I was hoping.


Money talks.


-under grand reward. -under grand reward is a lot of money. Nothing.


We put flyers up all over San Antonio.


We wouldn't let it go. But months went by without a single solid lead, Detective Roberts sank through frustration and into a despair.


This little girl, she looked like my babe. My my girl. She resembled my daughter, same build, same color of hair. Albert's favorite book as a baby boy was If you give a mouse a cookie. I read that to my daughter a million times. You do this for an extended period of time. You try to distance yourself from her. And the worst thing we can make is getting too close to it.




Got out close to the family, mentally, physically, for the detective. You do that every case.


You know good. You know good.


You're a burn out.


And then, about seven months after Amber's murder.


I'm sitting at the office and the phone rings.


The caller claimed to know something.


What's your name? I don't want to tell you my name. Just call me Joe. Okay, Joe, what do you got? I said, Well, I know who killed this girl. I said, Okay, who? He said, A guy named Giovanni. I said, Okay, what makes you think this guy did it? Well, he asked me if I wanted to do a robbery with him before.


I said, Okay. Fascinating.


He says, We used to both work for E. B. Games. I said, Well, why did he want to do this robbery? Well, he wanted to do the robbery at this store because there was no cameras. Hang up with him. I call E. B. Games here. Both of them did work for E. B. Games. So I'm thinking, finally got a break.


The detective asked Joe to come in for a talk, and Joe told him that at first, he didn't think Giovanni's request was serious.


I just blew it off. You don't think your best friend is going to actually want to go through something.


But after he heard about Amber said, Joe, it all clicked. Giovanni must have killed her. But how much talk could Roberts put in this guy, Joe, who initially wouldn't even give his full name? And who was this, Giovanni? Anyway, the detective checked for priors. There wasn't much.


Had a record as a juvenile. Get his fingerprints, get the fingerprints that we lifted from the crime scene. There's hardly any that are legible.


And none was a match.


Now you're stuck as an investigator. This is all you got. You got this one witness, and you want to tie this suspect to the scene, but there's nothing to tell you. I mean, there's nothing. I have nothing to hit him on.


But worth a try, he brought Giovanni in for an interview.


Water, Coke.


It'll do damage to.


My stomach right now.


Without food. Of course, he denies it. I'm real comfortable thinking that you're responsible for this murder.


That's crazy, sir. Was it crazy? No way to prove, really. And then a couple of days later, Detective Roberts brought the tipster, Joe, back in. And this time, Joe poured it all out, said, Giovanni, actually told him straight out that he killed someone.


I just was in shock when he told me that. I was scared too because I was in a car alone with him thinking like, I freaked out. What's he.


Going to do to me? Now that was huge. If Joe was telling the truth. But just one guy's accusation, no idea how credible it might be, wasn't much to go on. Still, it was all they had.


So… I draft out an arrest warrant and I draft out a search warrant, bring it to the magistrate. She reads it, says it's about time. Because this is in the news. This is a high-profile case for San Antonio. Rich white girl dies at work. People went crazy. It shouldn't have mattered, but people went crazy. They went justice. Yeah. Go get the search warrant signed. Go get the arrest warrant signed. It's my birthday. Oh, my. I said, Man, it's the best birthday present ever.


But then he got a call from his sergeant.


He said, Ray Bob, I want you to keep your mouth shut. Don't say anything. I just want you to do what I'm telling you to do. I said, I need you to get that arrest warrant quasheded. Wow.


Giovanni would not be arrested after all. Just not enough evidence. The prosecutor had made it clear he didn't want to try him and fail in court. But the detective still had a warrant for Giovanni's DNA. So they went to his house unannounced.


He opens the door, I said, I got a warrant for you. Didn't say a search warrant, didn't say a arrest warrant. And he sinks. He turned back to his wife and says, I'm going with them. And he was defeated. He put.


His head down.


His head down, his shoulder sink down, and he put his hands behind his back.


Like he was getting ready to be handcuffed.


Like he was getting ready to be handcuffed. He thought he was going to go to jail.


That's certainly a tell.


Oh, yeah.


Giovanni gave them a DNA sample, but afterwards, he clammed up, wouldn't say a word.


I was disgusted, so I had somebody else take him back home. But I called my friends at SWOT. I said, Hey, keep an eye on this guy.


And sure enough, just hours later, he got a call.


Swat calls me and says, Hey, Ray Bob. He's loading everything up in a car. He's moving.


They pulled Giovanni over at traffic stop, asked him where was he headed.


Going to go to Laredo. I'm getting the hell out of here.


Giovanni was going to Laredo, Texas, along the Mexican border. Nothing Ray Bob could do about it. And the case went pretty much nowhere after that, for many months until there was a woman. She was terrified. And did she have a story to tell? Coming up, a young mother, locked in with a killer.


He just reached over the glove compartment and he put out the gun and I said, at least don't kill me.


When Date Line continues.




June, almost a year and a half after the murder of Amber Belkin, Detective Ray Bob Roberts roared down the highway to Loreto. He had just gotten a call from the police there. Giovanni's wife wanted to talk. Her name was Veronica. And what a story she told. I made a.


Dumb choice. I was really young, and I got pregnant really young. Still in.


High school?




She tried to resist him, she said, Wasn't attracted that way, but he was so insistent. And once she was pregnant.


Our family would insist that we get married because they did not want us to have a baby out of wetlock. Then I listened to everyone except my own feelings.


And once they were married, she said he demanded sex whenever he wanted it.


Whenever he touched me, I would feel sick and I would tell him to stop. There were times when he would get angry or frustrated and then he would force himself on me.


Right beside sleeping children in their one small bedroom.


He would ductate me, ductate my mouth, ductate my wrists to the leg of a chair and just to keep me quiet. I was very afraid. And again, I was young.


Much too afraid to tell.


And while detectives searched for more clues in.


Amber's death here-Then one day in late January 2007, as she watched TV, she saw the news of Amber's murder.


And I said, Look at this. Wow, isn't that crazy? And he just looked and he just said, Wow, that's… He mirrored my reaction to it like, Wow, I can't believe it. I never thought for one second. He just acted normal that whole time.


That is until after the police knocked at their door in the fall of 2007, after Joe reported Giovanni, after Detective Roberts got that search warrant for Giovanni's DNA.


We were asleep, and it was early in the morning, and then we hear a pounding at the door and boom, boom, boom. That woke us up. That woke me up. And we're like, What's that? And he got up first, and he.


Went to go check. And then he returned and told her it's the police.


They think I killed someone. I was like, Did you? Did you?


They want to talk to me because they think I killed someone. What's it like to hear that?


I was shocked and mortified. And he says, because I did kill someone. And that's all he said. He said, I killed someone. Who? Why? I'm assuming maybe he had like an altercation with someone, like maybe a friend or some guy down the street. I don't know.


But Giovanni only said….


We're going to move to Loreto. Let's just go. That very day? The next day. A very rapid move, unprepared, and it's just fast.


Veronica was beside herself, paralyzed by fear.


How do I tell somebody? Do I call the police? Do I tell a family member? What do I do? I just stay quiet and I was so afraid to say something.


Then one night, she worked up the courage to ask him a question.


I asked him, Did this have anything to do with what I saw in the news that day? He said, Yes, I did that. That was me.


What was that like.


To hear? I just started crying. It saw me and I was like, Oh, my God. I go, Why? Why did you do that? He said, We needed the money.


She begged him, Turn yourself in. Instead, he went to his mother.


She would cry to him. It's like, No, don't. Please don't go. You don't want to leave your children. They're never going to see you again. And I'm just there crying. Why? Like inside. I'm just trying to do as peacefully as I can without making him angry toward me.


And then around dinner time one evening, Veronica finally told him she'd had enough. The marriage was over.


Then he said, You know what? Let's go for a drive. Let's go get the kid something to eat.


Instead, he drove her to a secluded area.


It was just dirt all around, empty and no people, no one in sight. That's when he pushed the auto... The lock. Yeah, the car lock. The car lock, and it locked all the doors. And that's when I was like, Okay, something's going to happen tonight. Something's going to happen. Because we were in the middle of nowhere. And I didn't know it was going to kill me. I was already crying. I was looking out the window. I was thinking, Am I going to get out of this. And I look over and he just reached over the glove compartment and he put out the gun. I said, Please don't kill me. He said, Don't worry. I'll just do what I say.


Get into the back seat, he ordered. He followed her.


And then he raped me back there. I started crying. I just started praying. As he was doing, I started praying. I just started calling out to God. I just can't be… I wanted to get out of there alive.


But it wasn't Veronica who would die. It was Giovanni. He pulled her out of the car. Take the gun, he said. Shoot me.


I said, I can't do that. He said, Yes, you're going to do it. Because if you don't do it, I'm going to come after you. I'm going to come after the children. I'm going to come after your family. And whoever you end up with, I'm going to come after him too. If you don't do it, I'm going to come and hurt your children. I'm going to come and hurt everybody. So you need to end my life tonight. Joe, I can't do this. I can't do... I cannot be like you. I can't do this.


She tried to reason with him. She said, told him if she killed him and went to prison, their children would have no parents.


Just said anything I could say just to get him out of this mentality.


And it worked. He drove home, told her what she had to do.


He had me lay down next to him. He made sure that I was right there. I was awake the whole night because I was afraid that he would do something while I was asleep, or to the children, or just something crazy. Then the next morning, he said, I'm just going to disappear.


He drove Veronica and the kids to her mother's house, and he took off. What did it feel like to walk.


Away from him? Like, I'm almost there. It's almost over. And I run in there and I said, I need to make a phone call. I need to tell the police what happened.


And she did.


They told me the same way she takes so long. I was just so afraid. I'm here now, and I'm telling you everything I know everything that he told me.


But now, he was truly gone. Coming up.


We're in a jail. A cold, stinky, loud jail.


Confronting a killer, healing a wound.


They were grateful that I said something, that I did the right thing. The day.


Veronica called the police was the beginning of the end for Giovanni Rivera.


I'm drafting an arrest to warrant we're probably going to get the son of a bitch.


Not that easy. All they knew was gone somewhere, probably Mexico. But it was a full six weeks before they tracked him down, surprised him at a relative's house, sure enough, in Mexico, as he played one of the video games he stole from Amber's store. Detective Roberts finally got his suspect exactly where he wanted him.


We're in a jail. A cold, stinky, loud jail. I'm Detective Roberts, Rayon Roberts, San Antonio Police Department. Well, this background noise, we read Giovanne's rights. You have the right to remain silent. And he starts talking. I've had.


This killed for a long time. I've been wanting to turn myself in. But I always put the needs of.


Others before me. Wait, put the needs of others before me? Really?


He says, Just past Christmas. I need money. Bv Games. He said, I want to do the one on San Pedro because there's no video. He drives there, he tells me. He says, I had tape and a knife. What's tape for? Time-up.


He claimed he didn't know it was Tiny Amber Belkin running the store that day.


In my heart, I think he knew.


After all, Gillesvahney had worked for the Game Store Company, knew who managed the stores, and he knew Amber. If he was going to pick somebody to rob, why wouldn't he pick this five-foot-two, 100-pound young woman instead of Brandon, who's.


Big guy instead of all these… He knew.


When he got there, said Giovanni. She recognized me and.


I… When I.


Was in there.


I asked for the money and I tried to explain to her, Look, I'm having some problems.


And she.


Said, Just take the money. But then he claimed she reached for the phone, so he took her down, taped her wrists with duct tape, like he had often done to his wife. Then that's when she panicked and she wanted.


To scream. I just covered her mouth and just saying, Please don't scream. Don't scream like that. Now I'm.


Based and I'm like saying that I.


Can't lose everything I have to gain my family. I've already hit.


The point of no return.


Just grab a bag and I just grab.


A bag and I just told.


Her, Just be quiet. Just be quiet. He put a bag on her head, he said. He squeezed it tight around her neck. He held it there.


When she stopped to it, I just heard her gurgling.




Didn't hear her screaming. I just stopped and I said, Okay. I turned her around and I untied her. I said, Are you okay? And she wasn't breathing.


I heard.


Her gas, but.


She didn't.




Anymore. And that's when I left. I had already had the money and I put.


The stuff.


That I wanted to pick up so I can sell, and I left.


Out the back door. Giovanni's story would not be tested in court. He took a plea deal, murder, a life in prison, with their all possible beginning in the year 2038. At the sentencing, the Belkins finally confronted the killer of their only child.




Darling daughter.


Is it helpful to do that? It is. It is.


No. Not for you? He sat back on the.






Tapping his foot.


Just looking around.


Like you're wasting my time. It would have been beneficial if I had heard him say, I am really sorry. I am so sorry, Mr. And Ms. Belkin. Amber didn't deserve to die. I'm so sorry.


What did he say?




But the Belkins did get an apology from someone else. Giovanni's now ex-wife, Veronica.


Hi, Veronica.


They met for the very first time when we shot this story.


I blamed myself for not saying something sooner, for waiting too long, and I always felt like they had maybe some anger.


Towards me. But blame her? No. They knew she was a victim, too. In fact, Giovanni pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting Veronica.


They were really nice. They were grateful that I said something, that I did the right thing. We don't have any ill feelings at all. She's a wonderful girl.


They are, they told us, broken, still, and always will be. And they cling now to Amber's best friends, Ashley and Monica.


Our daughters, her adopted daughters, which are Amber's friends through thick and thin.


They have each named daughters after Amber, and they hang on to memories like gold.


It's like you have to put it in a box and then just keep it there for safekeeping because that's what you have and that's what you hold on to. It hurts. It hurts. Life will never be what it was with her.


That's all for now. I'm Lester Holt. Thanks for joining us. Dateline Thursday. Reaching flames were meant to hide a murder, but investigators thought they revealed a motive. Will a new trial change the.


End of the story? You got.


To pay for what you did. Dateline, Thursday 10/9/central, only on BBC.