Thursday, February 17, 2011

Forde has decided against speaking to the jury

Forde (left) speaks with
lawyer Eric Larsen.
Convicted double-murderer Shawna Forde informed Pima County Superior Court Judge John S. Leonardo Thursday morning that she has decided against addressing the jury that will decide if she lives or dies.

The jury found, Monday, that Forde was guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, the attempted first-degree murder of Gina Gonzalez, the wife of Raul Flores and mother of Brisenia Flores, as well as 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. Tuesday the jury found that Forde was eligible for the death penalty on the two first-degree murder counts.

Since Tuesday, the jury has been hearing mitigation evidence that the defense hopes will allow the jurors to grant Forde leniency and sentence her to live in prison as opposed to death by lethal injection.

Prior to closing arguments in the penalty phase of the trial, the defendant is provided the opportunity to offer an explanation for the crime or crimes through allocution. Allocution “is intended to provide closure for victims or their families by removing any doubt as to the exact nature of the defendant's guilt in the crime,” according to

At this point, the defense is optimistic that their mitigation evidence will conclude tomorrow and the state may present some brief rebuttal evidence prior to closing arguments. If the jury begins its deliberations on Friday and does not reach a verdict prior to 5 p.m. it is likely that deliberations will resume next Tuesday morning as Monday is a court holiday in honor of President’s Day.