Minuteman Vigilante Shawna Forde Convicted for Brisenia Flores’ Murder

Forde reportedly planned elaborate heists in order to fund her anti-immigration activism

By Julianne Hing Feb 14, 2011

This afternoon a Pima County, Arizona, jury found Minuteman border vigilante Shawna Forde guilty on two counts of first-degree murder for killing nine-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father Raul Flores Jr. in May 2009, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Forde was also convicted of attempted first-degree murder for shooting Brisenia’s mother Gina Gonzalez, along with other aggravated assault and robbery charges.

On May 30, 2009, Forde and two suspected accomplices woke up the Flores family and told them they were law enforcement officers. When Raul Flores Jr. questioned the intruders they stormed into the house and shot Flores and his wife. Gonzalez testified during the trial that after she was shot, she could hear her daughter ask the gunmen why they had shot her parents before Brisenia was shot twice, at point blank range. Gonzalez survived only by pretending she was dead, and then by crawling to the kitchen to find her husband’s gun and shoot at intruders when they returned.

Forde has ties to multiple right-wing groups, including the tea party, the Minutemen American Defense, a border vigilante group that polices the border with their own guns and surveillance equipment, and FAIR, the anti-immigration group that helped design Arizona’s SB 1070.

Her defense downplayed these associations, and instead tried to cast Forde as a boastful eccentric with big plans and little follow-through. The prosecution pointed to a recording of a phone call between Forde and an FBI informant, during which Forde made it clear that she planned the invasion.

"People underestimate me all the time," Forde said on the phone call recording, the Green Valley News and Sun reported.

Forde reportedly planned elaborate heists in order to fund her anti-immigration activism. When she was arrested, Forde was found with Gonzalez’s wedding ring and other personal possessions.

During the defense’s closing arguments, the paper reported that Forde’s attorney Eric Lawson quoted a line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth as an apt description of Forde: "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing."

Ultimately, the jury was unconvinced. They deliberated for seven hours over the course of two days. The jury will now be asked whether the death penalty should be sought for Forde’s crimes, the Arizona Daily Star reported. Forde’s accomplices Albert Gaxiola and Jason Bush face their own criminal trials later this year.