Thursday, February 17, 2011

Psychologist testifies that Forde expressed empathy and remorse

A clinical forensic psychologist who interviewed and evaluated convicted double murder Shawna Forde testified, Thursday, that she expressed remorse and empathy for victim Gina Gonzalez.

A Pima County Superior Court 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.

Dr. Judith Becker
Dr. Judith Becker, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Arizona, testified that she met with Forde for 6-7 hours over a period of four meetings in order to prepare her report in this case and to develop a diagnosis.

Remorse and empathy

Besides tests that Becker administered to the defendant, Becker conducted a clinical interview during which Forde told her that she felt remorse for Gonzalez. “She said she had lost a child and knew what it was like to lose a child,” she said.

Terry Greene Sterling
After the jury had returned the guilty verdicts, Forde spoke with veteran reporter Terry Greene Sterling for an article in the online news site The Daily Beast. “I know in her mind,” Forde said of Gonzalez, “I am guilty and she hates me. I know her tragedy is extremely sad.” But on the other hand, she said “people shouldn’t deal drugs if they have kids.” (No drugs were found in the trailer.)

Forde told me she’d “lost a daughter” and she knows from experience Gonzalez will feel pain “the rest of her life” and her “tragedy is extremely sad.” “I wish I could say I was sorry it happened,” Forde said. “I am not sorry on my behalf because I didn’t do it.”
Brisenia Flores

Defense attorney Jill Thorpe asked Becker if she would be surprised to learn that Forde had “called a press conference” where the statement to Sterling was made on the record. “That does not surprise me,” she said. “It shows poor judgment.”


Earlier in her testimony, Becker said she found “mood disorder not otherwise specified” when she examined Forde. She said she also found “chronic traumatic stress disorder,” as well as “personality disorder not otherwise specified, with borderline and narcissistic tendencies.”

Becker testified that narcissistic traits include wanting to be viewed “as a big deal, as someone very important” who tends to exhibit “attention-getting behavior.”

The jury asked Becker if victims of abusive have murdered people and if they are able to know right from wrong. “There have been victims of abuse who have committed murder,” she testified. “Is it possible for them to know right from wrong? Absolutely.”

The jury also asked Becker if it would be possible for someone like Forde to lead a complex operation like Minuteman American Defense. “Not very effectively,” she testified.

Finally, Becker was asked in a follow-up question if Forde was co-dependent. “Because of her fears of abandonment she needs a man in her life,” Becker testified.  
Pool photos courtesy of Gina Gonzalez and  Jonathon LeFaive