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Shawna Forde

A Nightmare on the Border

Victims Brisenia Flores
and her father, Raul "Junior" Flores
It was shortly before 1 a.m. on May 30, 2009, in the tiny border town of Arivaca, Ariz., a quiet night in the high desert. Gina Gonzalez was asleep when the knock on the door came. Her husband Raul "Junior" Flores roused her from her slumber, telling her, "I think the police are here." Gonzalez, 31, dressed quickly and went out into the living room to join her husband. By then, the twenty-nine-year-old Flores had let the two self-described law enforcement officials, a short blonde white woman and a tall white man dressed in camouflage, into the home. Flores asked to see their identification, but was told sharply, "There's no time for that!" A fugitive was loose, they told Flores, and the house surrounded.

But it didn't add up. The two didn't look like any law enforcement Flores had ever seen. They showed no badges. The tall man's face was painted black and the rifle in his hand sported a stock raggedly covered in duct tape. By the time Flores concluded something was seriously wrong, though, it was too late. "Don't take this personal," the man told Flores, "but this bullet has your name on it." With that, he fired a shot into Flores' chest before turning toward Gonzalez and shooting her several times in the right shoulder and right femur. Flores yelled at the intruders to stop shooting; the gunman wheeled back around and shot Flores again, killing him. Gonzalez, wounded but still conscious, lay on the ground pretending to be dead, hoping the invaders would take what they wanted and leave.

Hoping the intruders wouldn't notice Brisenia.

A Young Girl Murdered

Brisenia Flores
As she lay on the floor seemingly unconscious, Gina Gonzalez heard more people enter the home speaking in Spanish, ransacking the house, haphazardly taking her jewelry and anything else of value they could find. Whatever they were primarily looking for, it was clear they didn't find it. Then the nightmare took a turn for the worse.

Brisenia Flores, 9, the youngest daughter of Raul Flores and Gonzalez, had been sleeping through the commotion. Their older daughter Alexandra was spending the night at her grandparents' house. Brisenia had wanted to sleep with her new puppy beside her, but Gonzalez hadn't wanted the dog shedding in her daughter's bed so she had let them sleep on the living room couch. Brisenia, now awakened by the tumult and gunshots, asked the tall man, "Why did you shoot my dad?" "Everything's going to be okay," replied the tall man, "Nobody's going to hurt you." And then he went about reloading his weapon.

"Please don't shoot me!" the young girl pleaded. The man fired two bullets into Brisenia Flores. She would never speak again.

As soon as the intruders left her home, Gina Gonzalez crawled over to her wounded daughter Brisenia. "She was shaking," Gonzalez later told a jury, "I was telling her not to die on me, but she was choking on her own blood."

Gina Gonzalez
Gonzalez reached for a phone to call 911, and then made her way to the kitchen to retrieve the handgun her husband kept there. "They shot my husband, and they shot my daughter, and they shot me," she exclaimed to the 911 operator.
Just then the female intruder came back into the house and saw Gonzalez was alive. "She looked at me as if she'd seen a ghost," Gonzalez later recalled. The female intruder called out for the gunman to return, but this time Gonzalez was ready.

Audible on the 911 tape is the shootout that followed: gunshots aimed at Gonzalez ping off kitchen appliances. Gonzalez fires back, cursing at the gunman, and yelling at them to leave. When Gonzalez wounded her attacker, the invaders were forced to drive off.

When authorities arrived, Raul Flores and his daughter Brisenia were dead. A medical examiner would find Flores had been killed by six gunshots. Brisenia suffered two gunshots to the head — burns around the edges of her wounds proving the gun was fired at point-blank range. Gonzalez was brought to the University Medical Center in Tucson for treatment.

Oin Oakstar

Oin Oakstar
Early in the investigation of the Arivaca home invasion, law enforcement got a tip leading them to Oin Oakstar, a local player in the drug trade. Having been previously convicted on multiple felony charges, Oakstar was prohibited from possessing firearms. When a search of the home he shared with his girlfriend Sandy Stroup revealed a handgun, shotgun and SKS assault rifle, authorities had all they needed to arrest him.

Oakstar, a native of Arivaca, had been involved in the drug trade since the age of fourteen and had already served two stints in prison on state and federal drug charges. Oakstar initially refused to cooperate with the police, but checking Oakstar's associates led them to Albert Gaxiola, a man with whom Oakstar shared a lucrative business running drugs from Arivaca into Tucson. They charged $12.50 per pound for transporting hundreds of pounds of marijuana from the border town into the city. As it turned out, Gaxiola had a history with the victim Raul Flores: A few months before the killings, Gaxiola and friends had stolen 400-500 pounds of marijuana that Flores had stashed in an abandoned trailer. It came as no surprise that their feud would turn deadly.
Gina Gonzalez told investigators she had seen a teal Astro van driving by her house the day of the invasion, as if casing the area. On June 1, 2009, Pima County Sheriff's Department officials searched the residence of Albert Gaxiola. They found a teal Astro van with blood stains on both the exterior and interior. In the home, they found camouflage fatigues with the name "Bush" sewn into the right chest area. They had their first break in the case. Although, the police had traced the van to Gaxiola, they figured he was not the gunman since Gonzalez knew Gaxiola and would have recognized him.

Now police had to find the gunman and woman who had entered the Flores home. Oakstar refused to cooperate with authorities, so they let him stew in jail on the firearms violation. Eventually, prosecutors believed, he would start looking for a deal.

After the search of Albert Gaxiola's house turned up evidence he was involved in the shooting, authorities delved into his phone records. They found several text messages between Gaxiola and a woman named Shawna Forde. The messages were sent around the time of the shooting, and seemed to implicate the two in the crime. The timing was right, and the messages implied that the motive for the home invasion had been taking out a rival in the marijuana trade and that one of the conspirators had been injured, presumably by Gina Gonzalez' marksmanship.

A message sent from Gaxiola to Forde on May 30 at 1:33 a.m. read "Cops on scene. Lay low." A reply from Forde to Gaxiola sent 25 minutes later stated "No worries. All good. Relax, competition gone." About an hour later, Forde wrote Gaxiola again: "Can u stop and get a few rolls of gauze and compress bandages."

Who is Shawna Forde?

Shawna Forde
The woman who seemed to be at the center of the home invasion plot had a fascinating backstory. On July 15, 2009, Seattle Weekly had published an insightful account of Shawna Forde's journey from foster child to petty criminal to Minuteman activist to accused murderer. According to the story, Shawna Breitgham (as she was originally known) was born in Everett, Wash., but was given up for adoption early on and spent much of her childhood in and out of the foster care system. She was first arrested at the tender age of eleven; by seventeen, Shawna had been busted five times for crimes like burglary, theft, and prostitution.

The check of court records by Seattle Weekly found that Shawna had been divorced three times during the 1990s, giving birth to a daughter and a son, as well as another child who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Her half-brother Merrill Metzger told the paper that Shawna instilled the same defiance of the law in her children. "She taught them both how to shoplift," Metzger told reporter Rick Anderson, "Shawna also used them to distract people while she shoplifted." In fact, Shawna's son Devon Duffey (also known as Devon Eddy) had been arrested several times on burglary charges and was sentenced to roughly three years behind bars for trafficking stolen property in 2008. The Herald, Everett's local newspaper, reported that Devon, 17 at the time, was one of three young men who had beaten a beauty salon owner with a baseball bat; Shawna Forde had worked at the salon at the time. He admitted responsibility for the beating and was jailed.

And Shawna's troubled relationship with authority surfaced in less criminal ways. In 2001, while studying to be a beautician in Everett, Forde organized a walkout by students who felt the cosmetology school was not delivering training as promised. A few years later, Shawna ran for Everett City Council despite the fact that she had recently been arrested for stealing a container of chocolate milk costing $3.18. Although she pleaded guilty to the shoplifting two months before the election, she still managed to rack up almost 6,000 votes in a losing effort.

Shawna split from her most recent husband, John Forde, in July 2008, although the divorce wasn't finalized until February of 2009 and the two still lived together at times. On December 22, 2008, John Forde was shot multiple times by a stranger who burst into the home. Mr. Forde survived the attack but has never commented publicly about it. A week later, Shawna Forde called police to report that she had been attacked, slashed and raped by Hispanic gangsters. Police found no leads in either case. Merrill Metzger maintains the sketch of the stranger who shot John Forde resembled a man Shawna had been dating. Still, the police never charged Shawna with the attack on her husband, nor have they made any headway on the alleged rape of Shawna Forde. Everett Police Sgt. Robert Goetz told Seattle Weekly, "the case has been closed due to insufficient evidence," since Shawna was the only witness.

Shawna Forde's New Passion: The Minutemen

In 2006, Shawna became active in the Minuteman movement, a loosely-knit grassroots anti-illegal immigration group that staged "operations" on the border with Mexico. Groups of Minutemen would station themselves along the U.S. southern border, keep watch out for Mexicans crossing the border illegally and then alert the Border Patrol. By 2006, Shawna Forde announced she had become the media director of the Minuteman Project's Washington chapter. "I will be there to bring attention to Americans that our borders are wide open and we need to secure them," she told The Herald.

Forde gained the support of Jim Gilchrist, head of the Minuteman Project, who called her "a stoic struggler who has chosen to put country, community, and a yearning for a civilized society ahead of avarice and self-glorifying ego." Forde increasingly spent her time patrolling the border in Arizona, eventually starting her own border patrol group, Minuteman American Defense (MAD). Shawna started a website for the group, and kept a running blog on the site called "Shawna's Corner" in which she wrote about her new calling with no shortage of braggadocio:

Minutemen American Defense logo
See, there is a new white girl in town...this one is not afraid and will not tolerate this, not while I'm on post...We can all live in fear or we stand strong and tall and look the criminals in the eye and say "No more." I did not get involved in this movement to be a wallflower and as most of you know me you know I'm a hands on kind of gal.

According to her family, Forde's take-charge attitude led to unconventional plans to fund the group, schemes that veered from zealotry into illegality. In a July 2009 interview, Merrill Metzger told Seattle Weekly reporter Rick Anderson that that "She sat here on my couch and told me she planned to start an underground militia... She said she would rob Mexican drug dealers, steal their money and their drugs. She talked about a store near her in Arizona that kept 40 grand under the counter to cash illegals' checks, and she was going to rob that."

A Plot is Born

In the course of her Minutemen operations, Shawna Forde met many people who she thought would be receptive to her increasingly dangerous ideas for raising funds to protect the border. In 2007, she was introduced to Ron Wedow, a Colorado man who had traveled to Arizona for a border watch. Wedow told investigators that Forde called him in April 2009 with a wild idea: She was putting a team together to knock over a house in Arivaca that a drug cartel used to store money, drugs, and weapons. Wedow recounted Forde's story that she had met a member of the drug cartel in a bar (assumed by many to be Albert Gaxiola, but not confirmed) and had won his confidence: "She took a cigarette out of his mouth and stomped it on the floor," Wedow would later tell a jury. "After that he was impressed with her."

Albert Robert Gaxiola
Wedow said he was dubious of the entire scheme from the beginning. Always skeptical about the government's stance on the Minutemen, Wedow assumed he was being set up by the FBI. When Forde proposed setting up a meeting with Wedow and others to further discuss the plan, Wedow invited an acquaintance, Bob Copley, who had informed for the FBI in the past.

In early May 2009, the meeting took place in a truck stop in Aurora, Colo. Wedow recalled Forde's projection that there would be upwards of $2 million in the home, and that she said she already had the house under surveillance. Wedow left the meeting early with the impression that he had done enough to tip off authorities to the scheme and convince those same authorities that he was not personally involved.

After he heard about the home invasion in Arivaca, Wedow contacted the FBI, whose agents asked him to let them tape his conversations with Forde. In wire-tapped phonecalls later played in court, Wedow asks Forde about the Flores murder. "I don't know shit about that," Forde replies defiantly, "If the cops want to talk to me they can call me." Although she never admitted complicity in the crime, Forde did state that she had carried out a few "operations" since she had last seen Wedow, and mentioned that a buddy had taken two bullets in the leg on a recent mission (as Jason Bush had). Elsewhere in the call, Forde proposed acquiring land in Arizona to start a new security business helping rescue kidnap victims. Later in the tapes, Forde talked about her strained relationship with legal authorities: " I'm the person that is willing to take it to the next level and that scares them."

Who is Jason Bush?

Jason Bush
It is unclear exactly when Jason Bush met Shawna Forde, but the two had much in common: checkered pasts, exaggerated accomplishments, and a passion for Minuteman activities. According to Forde's Minuteman American Defense group's website, Jason "Gunny" Bush served as the group's Operations Director. His online bio called him an army veteran of six overseas tours and a recipient of a Purple Heart and Silver Star. Subsequent research by various media outlets have not found any record of Bush's service in the U.S. Army or Marine Corps.

The truth about Jason Bush was much less noble. His criminal history stretched throughout his teen and early adult years. At the age of 15, Bush was accused of property crime felonies in his native Idaho. He was later convicted of burglary and charged with assaulting a female corrections officer and attempting escape from a Kansas jail. In Washington, Bush had been imprisoned for stealing and assault and was also accused of beating another inmate in jail. In a 1998 court filing, Bush stated he suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

By 2009, Bush was living with his girlfriend Melinda Shelton in Meadview, Ariz., a small city near Kingman. The two had met on the job at the Grand Canyon Skywalk, where Bush had regaled Shelton with stories of his fictional past in the military. When a probation violation led to Bush being fired from his Grand Canyon job, he told Shelton that he was going to re-enlist, and in the last week of May 2009 a friend drove by to pick him up. That friend was Shawna Forde. Shelton would not see Bush again until June 10, when he was dropped off by Shawna Forde. Only now he had a bullet wound in his leg.


Shawna Forde (left) and Albert Gaxiola
By June 11, 2009, authorities believed they had enough evidence to prosecute Shawna Forde, Albert Gaxiola, and Jason Bush. The first one they took into custody was Bush, whom they arrested in Meadview. Soon after his arrest, Bush sat down for an interview with Det. Juan Carlos Navarro in which he detailed the entire crime and his deadly role in it.

In Bush's first recounting to police, he said that he had been positioned outside the Flores home when the fatal shots were fired, and that he had been shot in the leg when he had gone to see what was going on. After Det. Navarro prodded Bush a bit with facts contradicting that story, Bush admitted that it had been he and Forde who had knocked on Flores' door and identified themselves as U.S. Border Patrol. He then recounted shooting Flores, Gonzalez and Brisenia — although he made clear that he had not believed anyone would be in the house, that he had thought it had been strictly a plot to steal marijuana. He also told Navarro that the reason Gaxiola had had Bush go in first was that Flores wouldn't recognize him. Bush said he felt pressured to shoot the family because Gaxiola had told him, "It's them or you."

The day after he was arrested in Arizona, Bush was indicted for the 1997 murder of Hector Lopez in Wenatchee, Wash., where police believed Bush had ties to white supremacist groups. Prosecution in that case would be postponed until the resolution of the Arivaca home-invasion charges.

Authorities had followed Shawna Forde from her temporary residence, Room 129 at an America's Best Value Inn in the North Tucson area. On the afternoon of June 10, 2009, Det. Christopher Hogan saw Albert Gaxiola and his girlfriend Gina Moraga enter Forde's room. Less than a half-hour later, Gaxiola and Moraga left. On June 11, Forde met Gaxiola and Moraga at a home in Tucson. When she returned to the hotel, she was arrested. Authorities took her cell phone and sent a text to Gaxiola asking him to meet her at a McDonalds near her motel. When Gaxiola arrived, he was arrested as well.

Searching Forde's orange Honda Element, investigators found pieces of jewelry that Gina Gonzalez later identified as stolen from her home. After the arrest, Forde denied taking part in the shooting at the Flores residence, telling police that she was either in Tucson or California on May 30. She admitted knowing Jason Bush, whom she called a "stand-up guy," but said she hadn't seen him since she had dropped him off at his girlfriend's house near Kingman. Forde had good things to say about Gaxiola as well. She told authorities that he was an informant for her Minuteman group. "He's a great scout," she said, "He lets us use his house."

Delays and Trial

Jared Loughner
As the trial of Shawna Forde was about to start in Tucson, the city was rocked by another shooting with national implications. On January 8, 2011, Jared Loughner opened fire at a "Congress on your Corner" event at a local Safeway, shooting U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in the head. Loughner also turned his gun on the crowd, shooting nineteen people resulting in six deaths. Among those killed was Christina Taylor-Green, a nine-year-old girl, the same age as Brisenia Flores.

After a few weeks' delay, the trial of Shawna Forde in the Pima County Superior Court finally began. On Thursday, January 25, Forde, 43, took her place at defense table to face two counts of first-degree felony murder for the deaths of Raul "Junior" Flores and his daughter, Brisenia, She was also charged with the attempted first-degree murder of Gina Gonzalez, and several lesser counts: burglary in the first-degree, two counts of aggravated assault, armed robbery, and aggravated armed robbery. The two first-degree murder charges were the most dangerous for Forde: If convicted, she would be eligible for the death penalty.

Due in large part to her work with her Minuteman American Defense group, Shawna Forde had an adamant group of defenders. Laine Lawless, a friend and Minuteman supporter, started a website called Justice for Shawna ( http://www.justiceforshawnaforde.com/home ) featuring the banner "racially profiled, false arrested [sic], political agenda prisoner". Lawless made news herself during the first week of the trial when she entered the courtroom wearing a wig and trench coat. Because she was listed by the prosecution as a potential witness, she was barred from sitting in on the trial (this is a common practice, known as witness sequestration, intended to prevent witnesses from changing their story to fit others' testimony). Lawless complained that she was a "citizen journalist" and as such had a First Amendment right to be in court. Judge John Leonardo threatened to jail her for contempt if she tried to enter the courtroom again on her own initiative.


Although prosecutors believed they could put forward a strong case full of intrigue and alliances between drug dealers and Minutemen, there was a deficit of physical evidence placing Shawna Forde in the Arivaca home on May 30, 2009.

Even Gina Gonzalez, the survivor and star witness, could not positively identify Forde as the woman who had invaded her home that night. After pointing to the defendant, Gonzalez admitted "I don't know her, and I can't say she's the person that came into my house." She described the female as "short and heavy-set" with "brownish" hair. It was a description that fit Shawna Forde, but could have fit any number of women, including Albert Gaxiola's girlfriend Gina Moraga, who the defense intimated may have been the woman at the Arivaca home that night.

The State also called Chuck Stonex, an army veteran and Minuteman, whom Shawna Forde phoned to come help treat a fellow Minuteman's injured leg after the incident. Stonex and fellow Minuteman Laine Lawless stopped by Gaxiola's house at 8 a.m. the morning after the shooting to treat Bush (whom Stonex only knew by his nickname "Gunny") and concluded the gunshot wound would be best cared for in a hospital. Forde told Stonex they couldn't do that because Bush didn't have insurance or money for treatment. As Stonex cleaned the wound, Forde mentioned that Bush had painted his face for the previous night's mission (as Gonzalez had testified). Stonex quoted Forde as saying, "You ought to see how scary he is with his face blacked out."

After agreeing to a plea arrangement that would free him long before the maximum 15 years he faced, Oin Oakstar took the stand as a prosecution witness. Oakstar gave more details about Gaxiola's feud with Raul "Junior" Flores, that after stealing Flores' marijuana Albert Gaxiola had known he needed to kill Flores or else face retaliation. Oakstar said Gaxiola had told him that Shawna Forde might be able to help them with their Flores problem because she needed money to fund her Minuteman operations. Oakstar said he had known about the home invasion plan, but had not agreed with it because he had felt that endangering Flores' family went against an unwritten ethical code among drug dealers. On May 29, when Gaxiola stopped by to get Oakstar for the home invasion, Oakstar told him he was too inebriated to join them.

Perhaps the hardest circumstantial evidence for Forde's defense team to counter was the jewelry belonging to Gina Gonzalez found in Shawna's vehicle. If Forde had not been part of the plot, how had the stolen goods found their way into her possession? Making matters worse were letters from Forde to her grown children asking them to identify the jewelry as Forde's. Not realizing that jailhouse letters to friends and family are not privileged communications, authorities had read them and entered them into evidence at trial. The defense could only contend that Gaxiola must have given Forde the jewelry during one of their police-surveilled meetings after the crime.

Ultimately, Shawna Forde chose not to take the stand in her own defense.


On Monday, February 14, 2011, after roughly seven hours of deliberation over two days, the jury returned its verdict. The 11 women and one man composing the jury found Shawna Forde guilty of two counts of first-degree felony murder, and also convicted her of attempted first-degree murder (for the shooting of Gina Gonzalez), two counts of aggravated assault, and on counts of burglary, armed robbery, and aggravated robbery.

After the verdict, Forde gave a jailhouse interview to Terry Greene Sterling of The Daily Beast in which she called the verdict "surreal," maintaining her innocence. "I wish I could say I was sorry it happened, Forde told Sterling, "I am not sorry on my behalf because I didn't do it."

The day after the verdict, the court reconvened to begin the penalty phase in which prosecutors would attempt to convince the jury that Forde's crimes merited the ultimate sentence: death.

Penalty Phase

Prosecutors listed three factors of the crime that justified a death sentence for Shawna Forde: multiple victims, the tender age of the murdered Brisenia Flores, and the financial motivation. If the jury could not unanimously agree to vote for death, Judge Leonardo would be required to sentence Forde to life in prison and decide whether she would be parole-eligible after 25 years.

Shawna Forde's defense attorneys Eric Larsen and Jill Thorp went on the offensive in the trial's final phase, describing Shawna Forde's deplorable upbringing in an attempt to win sympathy from a jury they hoped might spare their client's life. Forde's mother, Rena Caudle, had given birth to nine children by five different men; her first child was the result of an incestuous encounter with her stepfather. When Forde was born, Caudle had already fallen into a pattern of favoring her current boyfriend over her children. Forde had lived in seven different households by the age of 5. Forde's mitigation expert Margaret DiFrank told the jury that Forde had been molested by an adoptive father and an uncle, and that she had been beaten by a foster mother. DiFrank explained that this early abuse paved the way for Shawna's history of running away and her turning to thievery and prostitution.

Forde's defense team posited that Shawna's early childhood poverty and abandonment had led her to develop a narcissistic personality disorder. Neuropsychologist James Sullivan examined Shawna and testified that she suffered from mental deficits the doctor attributed to early trauma and a stroke she had suffered in her twenties. Sullivan estimated Forde's IQ at 86 but found that she greatly overestimated her own intellectual abilities. Sullivan said Forde's damaged brain made her unable to adjust to her environment and gave her delusions of grandeur: She had repeatedly lied about her personal history to come off as "a big operator with a lot of irons in the fire."

Prosecutors called Gina Gonzalez to the witness stand once again during the penalty phase to describe the horrors she had endured on May 30, 2009. "I went to bed that night not knowing my life would be changed forever," she told the court. Gonzalez broke down in tears recalling her inability to save her daughter Brisenia: "I wasn't able to do anything about it," she lamented, "I couldn't defend her." And she took a swipe at Forde: "I don't understand how someone could have that much hate in their heart," she sobbed.

Shawna Forde's Fate is Determined

On Tuesday, February 22, 2011, the jury decided the fate of Shawna Forde. After roughly four hours of deliberating, they deemed Forde's crimes worthy of the death penalty. Speaking to reporter Kim Smith of the Arizona Daily Star, juror Angie Thomas detailed the jury's exhaustive deliberations: "We considered every argument the prosecutors presented us with and every alternative and every derivative of every alternative." Forde's lead attorney Eric Larsen was disappointed to hear his client, who the State concedes never pulled the trigger was being sentenced to death nonetheless. "We're in the process of killing people who haven't killed people to teach people not to kill people," he lamented. Prosecutors declined to comment publicly since they had yet to try co-conspirators Jason Bush and Albert Gaxiola. By Arizona law, Forde's death penalty sentence will be automatically appealed. No date has been set for her execution.

Jason Bush on Trial

Friday, March 18, 2011, saw the opening of the second trial stemming from the Arivaca home invasion, that of triggerman Jason Bush. From the beginning it was clear that Bush's defense team had no intention of disputing Bush's confession or his complicity in the crime. The real battle would be in the penalty phase, when their client's life was at stake.

Bush, 36, faced two first-degree murder counts for the killings of Raul Flores and his daughter Brisenia, as well as an attempted first-degree murder for the shooting of Gina Gonzalez. The state also charged him with a number of lesser burglary and assault charges.

Although Bush's trial was far shorter than Forde's, the verdicts were identical. On March 25, a four-man, eight-woman jury convicted Bush on all counts, including the two first-degree murder charges that would make necessary a punishment phase to determine Bush's fate.

As in Forde's penalty phase, prosecutors recalled Gina Gonzalez to give a victim-impact statement and then Bush's defense made a play for the jury's sympathy by emphasizing the defendant's painful childhood. Bush's parents legally had disowned him at the age of 11; he had been put in a mental institution where he had been sexually assaulted and abused by older boys. A neurospsychologist took the stand to give his opinion that Bush was a paranoid schizophrenic who had manufactured documents and stories to back up his invented military career.

On April 6, the jury came back with a unanimous decision that Bush should be given the death penalty. Judge Leonardo declared Bush would be killed via lethal injection. Bush now resides on death row in the state prison in Florence, Ariz., the same facility as Shawna Forde.

The third co-conspirator Albert Gaxiola is scheduled to stand trial for murder in June 2011.
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