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An Arizona jury has handed down a second death sentence in the murder of a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter, who were targeted by border vigilantes two years ago as part of a plot to steal money and fund an increasingly militant operation against immigrants along the border.
Jason Bush was sentenced to death Wednesday, a month after being convicted of murdering Raul Junior Flores, 29, and his daughter Brisenia Flores. Bush, known as “Gunny,” was part of Minutemen American Defense, founded by Shawna Forde.
Led by Forde, Bush and another man, Albert Gaxiola, went into the Flores home in Arivaca, about 50 miles southwest of Tucson, believing that Flores was a drug dealer and would have plenty of cash on hand. Prosecutors charged that Bush was the gunman who shot Flores dead before shooting his wife in the leg. He then walked over to Brisenia, who was sleeping with her puppy on the couch, and shot her twice in the head at close range.
The grisly murders exposed the nastier underbelly of the nativist movement on the border.
Bush has ties to several white supremacist groups, and Forde routinely hobnobbed with many of the movement’s more radical leaders. For example, J.T. Ready, the neo-Nazi founder of numerous border vigilante groups, defended Forde after her murder arrest in 2009 by writing, “I would like to personally thank Shawna Forde for doing the job the U.S. government won’t do itself. … Instead of getting locks and cold steel bars, Shawna should be presented the key to the city where she took out the trash.”
Forde was convicted on Feb. 14 of two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for the May 30, 2009, killings. She also was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of aggravated robbery, armed robbery and burglary. A jury gave her the death sentence on Feb. 22.
Gaxiola will be tried in June. Prosecutors have said they again plan to seek the death penalty.