Death Penalty for Right-Wing Activist in Child Murder

Brisenia and Raul FloresIn a unanimous decision, a jury in Tucson handed down the death sentence yesterday for right-wing anti-immigrant vigilante Shawna Forde — founder of Minuteman American Defense, an offshoot of the national Minuteman movement — who was found guilty last week in the double murder of Brisenia Flores, age nine, and her father, Raul, 29. (See photo, right.) The father and daughter were killed — and Gina Gonzales, their wife and mother, respectively, was seriously wounded — in the early hours of May 30, 2009, when Forde and an alleged accomplice, Jason Bush, posing as uniformed authorities, entered their trailer home in remote Arivaca, Ariz., searching for drugs.

Brisenia, who had gone to bed on the sofa that night to be with her new puppy, slept through the commotion at first and may have missed Jason Bush telling her father, “Don’t take this personal, but this bullet has your name on it,” before shooting him six times.

Awakened by the gunfire, the little girl watched in horror as Bush allegedly shot her mother in the shoulder and leg. Gonzales fell to the floor and feigned death.

“Why did you shoot my mom?” Brisenia asked Bush. He didn’t answer. Instead, he slowly reloaded and then placed the barrel of the gun against her cheek.

“Please don’t shoot me,” Brisenia begged him. Unmoved, Bush shot her in the face two times. With the killing out of the way, Forde and Bush got to business. They tore the home apart, searching for drugs, money and jewelery.

After the killers left, Gina managed to call 911, but as she was speaking with the operator, Shawna Forde returned, found Gina alive and called for Bush.

By the time the gunman entered the house, Gonzales had retrieved her husband’s gun. She opened fire. Forde was unscathed but Bush later showed up at an emergency room seeking treatment for a bullet wound. Later, when they were arrested, Shawna Forde had Gina Gonzales’ wedding ring and other jewelry in her possession.

Prosecutors believe Forde and Bush had been hired by Albert Robert Gaxiola, a local drug dealer, to raid Raul Flores, a rival dealer, steal his wares and kill him and his family. They believe Forde intended to use proceeds from the hit to fund her right-wing anti-immigrant activities.

For what it’s worth, both Raul Flores and his daughter were U.S.-born American citizens.

Bush and Gaxiola face trial later this year.