Third Defendant in Nativist Murder Case Escapes Death Penalty

Albert Gaxiola, the last of three defendants to be convicted in connection with the May 2009 slayings of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father in Arivaca, Ariz., will not receive the death penalty for his role in the crime, the Green Valley News reports.

A jury in July sentenced Gaxiola to life in prison for his role in the murder of Raul Flores but deadlocked over the question of whether he should receive the death penalty for Brisenia’s slaying. On Friday, Judge John S. Leonardo of the Pima County Superior Court granted prosecutors’ motion to withdraw their notice to seek the death penalty.

Gina Gonzalez, wife of Raul Flores and mother of Brisenia, supported the decision.

Gaxiola was found guilty on July 1 of two charges of first-degree murder as well as six lesser charges related to the home invasion and killings. He is scheduled to be sentenced on August 15. Regarding Brisenia’s murder, the judge has the option of sentencing him to life without parole, or life with the possibility of parole after 35 years. He may also chose to add time to Gaxiola’s sentence related to the lesser charges.

The two other defendants – Shawna Forde, who was the head of the border vigilante group Minuteman American Defense, and Jason “Gunny” Bush – were both found guilty and sentenced to death earlier this year. Flores’ household was targeted two years ago as part of Forde’s plot to steal money and fund her increasingly militant operation against immigrants along the border.