During testimony on Tuesday afternoon, the lone survivor of the May 30, 2009, deadly home invasion at Arivaca told a Pima County Superior Court jury, yesterday afternoon, that she didn’t fear the worse for her husband and daughter because “I knew they were dead.”
Defense attorney Eric Larsen asked Gina Gonzalez if seeing her husband, Raul “Junior” Flores and her daughter Brisenia overwhelmed her, killed by home invaders. “It still does,” she testified.
The first-degree murder trial for Minuteman American Defense leader Shawna Forde continued this morning with additional cross-examination by Larsen.
Forde, 43, is charged with two counts of first-degree felony murder in the deaths of Raul “Junior” Flores and his daughter, Brisenia, 9, as well as the attempted first-degree murder of Gina Marie Gonzalez; 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. If convicted on the two first-degree murder charges, Forde faces the possibility of the death penalty.
The Flores family
Yesterday, Deputy County Attorney Kellie Johnson asked Gonzalez about her marriage and family. She said that she and her husband had been married for 13 years. Besides Brisenia, who she said was 10 years old instead of the 9 years-old as has been reported, her other daughter was Alexandra, who is now 14 years-old.
During cross-examination Gonzalez cleared up an apparent misconception by defense counsel who have referred to her having a “common law” marriage. “We were married,” she testified. “Nobody asked me.”
Gonzalez used a diagram of her trailer home to explain to the jury where rooms were located as well as doors. She talked about her jobs at the Arivaca Mercantile and the Arivaca Community Center.
When the family returned home they prepared to go to bed. Gonzalez and her husband were in their bedroom while Brisenia settled down on the couch in the living room because she wanted to sleep with her new puppy. “I had washed the sheets on her bed,” implying that the dog was not allowed in Brisena’s bedroom.
Shortly before 1 a.m., Raul Flores awakened Gina. “Raul was standing by the bed looking out the window,” she said.
Flores told his wife to get dressed and he went out to turn on lights before answering the door. “I sat on the couch next to Brisenia,” Gonzalez said. Brisenia was still asleep.
When Flores opened the door, a female said they were looking for fugitive and needed to search their home. Flores said he needed to put on some pants before allowing them into his home. “She tells him to open the door or we’re going to shoot you,” Gonzalez testified.
Flores sat on a second couch when the female and a tall male armed with a rifle and handgun entered their home. “He was tall. He was white. His face was painted black and his hair was really weird,” she testified.
Their first concern was the location of Brisenia’s sister Alexandra. Then the female became impatient when Flores asked questions. “She was telling us to shut up and be quiet,” Gonzalez testified.
Gonzalez was asked to describe the female. “She was short and heavy set,” she testified. “She moved her hair away from her face. It was brownish.”
|Forde in camouflage and a ponytail.|
Gonzalez was asked, Tuesday afternoon, if the woman in her house was in the courtroom. “She’s sitting over there,” pointing to the defense table. “The one with the glasses on. I don’t know her and I can’t say she’s the person that came into my house.”
This morning, under cross-examination Gonzalez was asked about a lineup of pictures she had testified about in a pretrial hearing earlier this month. At that earlier hearing, Gonzalez had picked out the picture of a person she knows in the Arivaca community, but the set of pictures she was shown this morning did not include that picture. “There must have been other pictures,” she said. “This one doesn’t have Stacey.”
This morning Gonzalez said that picture number two was the person you came into her house. Number two was not verbally identified. Then, she admitted that she has trouble identifying people. Larsen asked Gonzalez why she had informed the lead detective on the case in December that Forde was the person in her house, yet two weeks ago she was unable to make that identification. “I assumed that because she was in custody they knew what they were doing and they got it right,” she testified.
Don’t take this personal
At that point, Flores stood up and had a brief struggle with the gunman. When shots were fired Gonzalez jumped up attracting the attention of the gunman who fired at her. “I ducked down,” she said.
Gonzalez was struck in the right shoulder and in the upper portion of her right leg. The bullet causing surgeons to insert a rod from her hip to her knee fractured her femur. Gonzalez fell to the floor after being shot landing in front of the couch where Brisenia was starting to wake up. “Junior yelled at him to stop shooting,” she said. That’s when the gunman resumed shooting at Flores killing him. “I hear Junior hit the couch saying no, no.”
The next sounds she heard was gurgling which told her he was going to die. Then the female home invader starting yelling about the items they came for were missing. “Everything’s clean,” Gonzalez testified. At that point, two additional males entered the home speaking Spanish. She identified the voice of one of those men as co-defendant Albert Gaxiola. She could not identify the fourth man.
A mother’s grief
Brisenia then asked why her father and mother had been shot. “He said everything will be okay,” Gonzalez testified. “She was really scared and her voice was shaking.”
At that point, the gunman calmly reloaded the clip for his handgun as Brisenia watched. “I could hear her telling him please don’t shoot me,” Gonzalez testified. “I saw her fly back on the couch after I heard the first shot.”
After the home invaders left, Gonzalez looked up from the floor to where her daughter was on the couch. “She was shaking,” she testified. “I was telling her not to die on me, but she was choking on her own blood.”
Gonzalez found a phone and hopped on one leg to the kitchen to find her husband’s gun. At that point the female returned dressed differently, her camouflage jacket removed so that she looked more like a Border Patrol agent dress in all green and with her hair in a ponytail. “She looked at me like she had seen a ghost,” she testified. “The gun then comes in and starts shooting at me. I saw bullets hitting the washer and dryer.”
One of her return shots apparently hit home. “I heard him cussing,” Gonzalez testified.
Gonzalez reviewed pictures of jewelry, both Tuesday and today that had been found in Forde’s possession at the time of her arrest.
Under cross-examination yesterday, Gonzalez denied that her husband was making money by selling marijuana. She also denied there were packaging materials for marijuana in her home. This morning, Larsen asked Arivaca resident Inga Hartman if she was aware that Raul Flores was a drug dealer. “Yes,” was her answer. She was asked if Gina had told her that Raul was a drug dealer. “No,” she testified.
And, Gonzalez said, Tuesday, she was not aware of a secret stash of drug money in her home when asked about a hiding place in her bedroom. “I thought he (Junior) kept dirty magazines and stuff in there,” she testified.
A large sum of cash was found under the mattress in the master bedroom after the incident. Gonzalez had testified that she had placed it there after Raul had given it to her Friday evening. Today she revealed it was $3,000 that she had intended for bill payments during their trip to Tucson on Friday afternoon.
Gonzalez admitted, Tuesday, she had a brother in prison, but was unaware of the charges he was convicted on. She denied that she had a sister killed in a drug-related incident.
© David S. Ricker, all rights reserved