A few miles southwest of the Strip, where the megawatt glare of the casinos meets a lonely stretch of desert, three young women were forced to walk into the night. Only one crawled out alive.
Prosecutors say it began in the chilly, early morning hours of March 5, 2003, when Kim Choy, her younger sister, Sophear, and friend Priscella Van Dine went to retrieve their belongings from a spacious home in the suburbs.
What ensued was a confrontation with their would-be landlord that court documents allege ended with the man marching the three women into the desert, forcing them to their hands and knees and shooting them in the head.
Kim Choy survived. The man, Alfonso “Slinkey” Blake, is scheduled to be tried later this month for two counts of murder.
According to the documents, 19-year-old Sophear Choy met Blake a few months before the shootings while working as a cocktail waitress at a strip club. Choy, her older sister and her friend needed a place to live and Blake suggested his home. The rent was $500 apiece.
Change of heart triggers confrontation
The women changed their mind about living with Blake, an aspiring R&B musician, after realizing he wanted them to be prostitutes, according to court documents. Prosecutors have not charged Blake with pimping, but they say Blake’s relationship with the three women and others in his house will be a key element of their case.
A judge is expected to rule Tuesday on a defense motion to keep any testimony about prostitution out of the trial. Blake’s attorney, David Brown, declined to discuss the case.
Much of the prosecution’s case is laid out in court documents based on interviews with Kim Choy.
“The evidence suggests that, ultimately, Sophear and Priscella were executed simply because they disrespected (Blake),” Deputy District Attorney Robert Daskas said.
The women moved some of their belongings into Blake’s house in late February 2003, and soon became suspicious after he gave them a laundry list of rules: No one could leave without permission. No men were allowed in the house. No one must know where they lived.
An angry phone conversation
Kim Choy called Blake on March 4 and said the three had changed their minds and wanted to pick up their belongings that night. Prosecutors say an angry Blake demanded $100 in storage fees.
After trying to squeeze their belongings into two trucks, the women returned for a second trip that night, shortly before 2 a.m. Soon after, prosecutors say, Blake and three other female roommates arrived in two SUVs.
There was an argument, pushing and shoving, and someone whipped out a knife. Kim Choy, 24, dialed 911 at 2:02 a.m. and told a dispatcher her sister was “getting beat up by a man.” The line went dead and “things got quiet,” Choy remembers.
She said Blake ordered the other women to leave in the three cars.
“We’re taking a walk,” Choy remembers hearing Blake say.
She saw a gun, and the girls began a terrifying walk into the desert. Sophear Choy was bleeding from knife wounds to the face, neck, chest, back and hands, and her sister said Blake ordered that she help her walk.
After about 50 feet, she said, Blake ordered the women to their hands and knees.
There was a flash, Choy said, and she saw Priscella Van Dine, 23, get shot in the head. She held her sister’s hand as Sophear Choy also was shot. Then, when the gun was turned on her, she waved her hands frantically in front of her face and the bullet ricocheted off her ring.
More shots rang out after that, Choy said, including one that struck her in the back of the head. She heard Blake run away. She was found by police officers who heard her faint cries after responding to the 911 call.
Authorities said Blake surfaced later that day in Southern California, checking into a Pasadena hospital under the name of “Marcus Edwards.” Prosecutors say he told hospital workers he was stabbed by an unknown assailant while walking down Hollywood Boulevard.
He was released the next day and picked up by two of his roommates. The three were stopped by police in Barstow, halfway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and Blake was arrested. No gun was found.
One of the women stopped with Blake, Jinah Chung, is cooperating with investigators and is expected to testify at Blake’s trial. If convicted, Blake faces a possible sentence ranging from 40 years in prison to the death penalty.
Chung has told prosecutors Blake was not a pimp, but admitted she was forced to hand over all her earnings as a topless dancer, according to court documents filed Jan. 8. Chung also said she and the other women living in Blake’s house endured regular beatings from Blake for disobeying him.
“Blake exercised complete control over every aspect of their lives through physical intimidation, financial coercion and social isolation,” prosecutors wrote. “All of this information belies the notion that (Blake) was anything other than a pimp.”