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Arizona Jury Hands Nativist Murderer Shawna Forde Death

By Mark Potok on February 22, 2011 - 3:52 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Extremist Crime

Shawna Forde, the anti-immigrant vigilante leader who orchestrated the murder of a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter, will receive the death penalty, a Pima County, Ariz., jury decided today.

The decision is binding on the judge hearing the case.

The case of Forde, a one-time member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps who went on to found her own Minuteman American Defense (MAD) group, didn’t get much attention from the national mainstream media. But among immigrant rights groups, Forde has become a symbol of the vicious hatreds that seems to lie just beneath the surface of the contemporary nativist movement. Forde targeted the family in the hope of stealing money to fund her MAD organization.

Two followers of Forde, Albert Gaxiola and Jason Bush, are scheduled to be tried separately later this year.

Forde was convicted on Feb. 14 of two counts of murder for the killing of Raul Flores and his daughter, Brisenia, in May 2009, along with the attempted murder of the child’s mother. She was also convicted of two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of aggravated robbery, armed robbery and burglary.

Forde led her two followers into the Flores home in Arivaca, Ariz., believing that Raul Flores was a drug dealer who would have plenty of cash on hand. Prosecutors have said that Bush was the gunman and first shot Flores dead and then shot his wife in the leg. He then allegedly walked over to Brisenia, who was sleeping with her puppy on the couch, shooting her twice in the head at close range.

Forde was once well known on the nastier end of the nativist movement, and in fact hobnobbed with many of its leaders. After her arrest, however, most of her former friends in the movement ran from her as fast as their feet could take them, suggesting that they had actually never really liked her at all.

  • Jordan

    “justice aimed at protecting the innocent rather than punishing the guilty” And the best way to protect the innocent is to make 100% certain that those who do harm can not ever harm again. No prison can be made 100% inescapable, but even the most cunning murderers can’t escape death after a lethal dose of sodium thiopental.
    “It was reasonable for the USA to enter WWII because the Japanese attacked US territory” And it is equally reasonable to execute Shawna Forde because she took the life of an innocent.
    You still haven’t answered my question, how does keeping those who kill the innocent alive help society? In fact, how does doing away with vengence against those who harm our society (make no mistake, entering WWII was indeed an act of vengence, we could have just as easily avoided violence by ending the oil embargo and handing the Japanese empire and the Third Reich all the oil they wanted, but I believe we made the right choice) help society? “there is a difference between tempering one’s feelings with reason and rejecting human emotion.” Yes, one can temper one’s feelings (like anger and vengence) by applying them outwardly only in the appropriate, reasonable situation (like applying anger when an innocent child is killed). One can also reject them by simply saying that a feeling (like the desire for vengence) should simply cease to exist.

  • Boom boom

    What she did was horrible and she need to know the actions she faces

  • Mitch Beales

    Jordan there is a difference between tempering one’s feelings with reason and rejecting human emotion. In my opinion human society advances when we reject vengeance and create a system of justice aimed at protecting the innocent rather than punishing the guilty.

    It was reasonable for the USA to enter WWII because the Japanese attacked US territory and, if I understand correctly, Hitler not only intended to invade the USA but had the wherewithal to do it.

  • Jordan

    Mitch,
    And the reason for keeping a child killer in prison for life were they will make no further contribution to society is…monetary savings? As for avoiding the invations of Afghanistan and Iraq, we would have done that because (had people had enough logical consideration) they would have realized that neither country was al-Qaeda’s financial backer and thus neither committed an act of war against the United States. No, if everyone was “mature enough to [reject human emotion]” than we wouldn’t have entered WWII, that is a far more pertinant analogy since an actual act of war against our nation was carried out, just as Shawna Forde actually committed murder before receiving the death penalty. Frankly, I don’t see how leaving a child killer alive helps human society advance.

  • Mitch Beales

    Edmund I was under the impression that in reality it costs more to execute someone than to imprison them for life. There is quite a long mandatory legal process involved in appealing a death sentence.

    Bobby I’m sure you’re right about what the families of crime victims feel. Some people are mature enough to temper their feelings with reason. If more folks were like that we might not have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • Sarah

    It is not like she will actually be put to death. She is Arizona’s 3 female sentence to death. The first one was 20 years ago and she is still breathing with no problems. Arizona doesn’t kill women just threaten to. She also has told correction officers she has paid someone to break her out of prison. So they sentenced her to death. Not really a big deal. Ask the other 2 who are roomed right next to her.

  • Debbie B

    To Stacy and others that agree, there was some national coverage, I live in Mass and watched this event unfold and the subsequent trial as proof. The trial opened right after the shooting of a member of Congress and the death of a judge, it was held during some of the most historical and unpredicted uprisings and overturnings of despots. A Wisconsin Governor trying to undo union rights and the media will focus on these issues. The week Mother Theresa died so did Lady Di….

  • Edmund

    Basically. I look at it in the utilitarian sense, as it would be quicker and cheaper to dispatch these three, than to feed, clothe, and house them for the next 20-30 yrs. It just makes more sense. My heart does not bleed for child killers.

  • cindy hawkins-legorreta

    I am wondering: is there a special place in Hell for people who lock and load, then shoot helpless kids at point blank range? Madness, madness….

  • Coila

    The death penality is moot. It is just a reflection of a violent society that advocates sitting in judgment of others. The 100 pound gorilla in the room is the fear/hate mongering NRA which is a wolf in sheeps clothing. It is nothing more than an effective lobbiest for the billion dollars arms industry. Arizona has now had two of its youngest innocent citizens murdered. Christina Taylor Green was gunned down at Senator Giffords civic gathering. Instead of outrage the Arizona legislature earned their thousands of dollars salaries voting to make the Colt hand gun the “official gun of the state”!!! The NRA is nonhating and nondiscriminatory. It emotionlessly doesn’t care who is murdered as long as their customers the arms industry is making their millions. This includes the lucrative sale of arms to slaughter thousands of innocent Mexican citizens across the border.

  • ruben

    to stacy….i agree 100%,if brisenia were white fox news would have made her a martyr by now…..but unless you are white you don’t matter in racist states like arizona.i feel so bad for that poor little girl….just imagine the last face she saw on this earth was that of a hate filled neo nazi reloading his gun to execute her…..as far as i am concerned this earth is better off with out cowards like forde and those two other baby killing chumps!

  • Bobby

    To Marcus and all that think like him, there is not enough time or space to tell you people what I think of your ridiculous reasoning of capital punishment. All I can say is, GOD forbid that this should happen to your family. I doubt that you would feel the same way. Of course you people will say you would still not want the MURDERER put to death, but when your alone , we all know what you would really want to happen.

  • Stacy

    It was actually even more sick and hateful than this article reports. The little girl woke up after hearing her parents being shot and first asked the shooter why he shot them, then asked if he was going to shoot her too, and then begged for him not to shoot her. During this time he was reloading his weapon right in front of her and then shot her in the face.

    I’m just so disgusted that this case has not made more headlines in the national news, which I cannot help but believe is due to racism too. If this child had been white, everyone would know her name by now.

    I’ve always considered myself anti-death penalty but it’s cases like this that shake the foundation of my beliefs. From a legal perspective I know it’s beyond the capability of our criminal justice system and ourselves as fallible human beings to be able to get it right every time. But from a moral perspective, certain cases, such as this one, leave a part of me screaming out for vengeance. Maybe this is too primitive but I can’t seem to stop myself from feeling this way.

  • jgt2598

    “I refuse to believe that anyone can truly “deserve” death.” So you would have her thrown in prison to ‘rule the prison yard’, and get out in thirty years, and probably kill more people? Prison is technically a place for reform (though it rarely succeeds), but there are certain people (like those who murder children in cold blood) who have not even the slightest chance of being reformed. People like Shawna Forde are excellent examples of WHY many states still have the death penalty, she is too dangerous to live in human society.

  • cherie

    Racism isn’t the only issue with these types of crimes-there has to be more than just hatred going on for a man to walk up to a sleeping child that is curled up with her puppy and cold bloodedly shoot her in the heat twice. I guess I just don’t understand the intense hatred-but if there were more of the “eye for an eye” real justice in this country (through the courts) there would be less violence of all types-criminals getting off with a slap on the wrist are not going to reform, if anything they will escalate, after all, they didn’t get any punishment so what does it matter? we need stronger, tougher sentences for the violent crimes.

  • Jonas Rand

    Marcus, I concur. You aren’t alone.

    No human being deserves to have their rights revoked.

    Right-wing, left-wing, murderer or not (no, I’m not saying that murder is value-neutral like ideology), the state should not be afforded the right to decide whether someone lives or dies. My objection is purely secular, not that the government is “playing god”.

  • ruben

    to marcus…..yes the death penalty is harsh but if you ” live by the sword you will die by the sword ” so to speak….any adult who kills an innocent child either because of hate, or any type of perverted crime should have all rights revoked PERIOD!!…..and just think of all the bodies of the people buried out in the desert that had the misfortune of running into these arrogant racist bullies.the racist right wing elements that have taken over the government in arizona allowed and nurtured shawna forde to behave in this manner and like they say about bin laden that there are many more muslim extremists ready to take his place….there are also many more white right wing extremists ready to take fordes place.

  • Marcus

    Is it strange that I’m a bit bothered by this ruling? I wasn’t expecting otherwise from a state like Arizona, but still, killing Forde won’t bring this family back, nor will it do a thing to stem the rising tide of violence against Hispanic people that will surely come about as the debate over border security continues to heat up. As far as I’m concerned, this is just more killing. I refuse to believe that anyone can truly “deserve” death. The idea that murder is a suitable punishment for wrongs done is what started this ordeal.

  • Susan

    My only regret is that she did something to deserve it.

  • Ian

    Just as Timothy McVeigh’s death did not stop anti-government terrorism, this sentence will not stop xenophobic terrorism.

  • Matthew Bright

    Shawna Forde was not “booted out” of the Minuteman organization because she was “unstable,” despite what CNN and other news groups are saying. She was booted out because she tried to take that organization over.

  • megan f

    Yes, Chelene Nightingale ran from her friend Forde. She is now involved with the “sovereign Citzens” wacko anti-gov movement. “restore america Plan” Can this woman ever be part of a decent non conspiracy tinged group? what is wrong with her.