A jury in Tucson today handed down a guilty verdict for Jason Bush, the second person tried in the murders of Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia, in Arivaca, Arizona, a short drive from the Mexican border. Raul's wife Gina Gonzales was also shot during the May 30, 2009 home invasion, but she pretended to be dead and miraculously survived -- later to identify the murderers. The mother said as she lay on the floor, she listened to Bush tell the little girl she would not be hurt. Then he shot her in the face, twice.
Bush, 36, was also found guilty of the attempted first-degree murder of Gina Marie Gonzalez; as well as of one count of burglary in the first-degree; one count of aggravated assault, serious physical injury; one count of aggravated assault, deadly weapon/dangerous instrument; one count of armed robbery; and one count of aggravated armed robbery. Later that day, the jury found that Bush is eligible to be sentenced to death. Green Valley News
Last month one of Bush's two accomplices, Shawna Forde, was convicted and sentenced to death. A third person, Albert Gaxiola, goes on trial June 1. Forde was a founder of the Minutemen American Defense, a vigilante group that patrols the border.
The three people arrested in the crime include the leader of Minutemen American Defense, a Washington State-based offshoot of the Minutemen movement, in which citizens roam the border looking for people crossing into the country illegally. Former members describe the group’s leader, Shawna Forde, 41, as having anti-immigrant sentiments that are extreme, at times frightening, even to people accustomed to hard-line views on border policing. New York Times
Prosecutors argued that Forde recruited the two men to rob Raul Flores because she believed he was a drug smuggler, and she intended to use the money to fund her group. Although Bush denied being a member of the Minutemen, he's a real piece of work. He had convinced Forde and others that he was a decorated war hero who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, like a lot of these cowboys who like to get all camouflagy and play war in the desert, Bush was never in the U.S. military. He once was, though, a member of the Aryan Nations, with ties to the Northwest where he is suspected in a number of murders:
Bush is suspected of four homicides in 12 years. Beside the two Arizona murders, he's thought to have killed Hector Manuel Lopez Partida, 29, a homeless Wenatchee [WA] man, stabbed seven times while sleeping in 1997. The onetime Aryan Nations soldier is thought to have also killed Jonathan Bumstead, 18, of East Wenatchee, who was shot in the back and head that same year. An informant said Bush confessed he killed Bumstead "because he was a traitor to the race." Bumstead was the only white victim among the four. Seattle Daily Weekly
Last week Bush's attorney said there was such "overwhelming evidence" that the three defendants murdered the husband and daughter that he did not plan to offer a defense. The defense's only hope of avoiding the death penalty is convincing the jury that "aggravating factors" were not present during the commission of the crimes; arguing Bush's innocence would likely jeopardize their credibility during the penalty phase.
Defense attorney Richard Parrish said in a motion filed Tuesday that neither he nor co-counsel Chris Kimminau will contest Bush's guilt because they "would entirely lose their credibility before the jury," which they would then have to persuade not to impose the death penalty. Arizona Daily Star
After the killings, Shawna Forde fled to the home of Glenn Spencer, the President of American Border Patrol, another group that monitors the border. She was arrested near his home. Yes, this is the same Glenn Spencer who the Arizona Senate had invited to speak to them about border security last week. They knew who he was and they knew exactly what he would say, but they abruptly canceled his presentation when the media started to highlight his associations with white supremacists and other Mexican-bashing nutjobs.
A bunch of anti-immigration blowhards claim Forde and the others are political prisoners and demand their release. You can understand why I will not link to their website.
I love Arivaca, it's a cool little town. I will never drive through again and not think of this. My thoughts are with the mother and family.