Pool photo by Dean Knuth,
Arizona Daily Star
Bush, 36, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the May 30, 2009 deaths of Raul “Junior” Flores and his daughter, Brisenia, 9, at their home in Arivaca, as well as one count of 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.
Co-defendant Shawna Forde was recently convicted of all of these charges and was sentenced to death by a superior court jury.
The state called the Pima County Sheriff’s Department homicide detective to the witness stand to testify about a statement Bush had given to him shortly after he was arrested on June 11, 2009, in Meadview near Kingman. “He said that he was the operations director for the Minutemen American Defense, which was run by Shawna Forde,” Det. Juan Carlos Navarro testified.
Navarro testified about the May 30, 2009, home invasion. “He said that he went with Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola,” he said.
Bush also told Navarro about a scouting mission in the afternoon of May 29, 2009. “He stated that he was taken by a person known to him as Oin in the teal mini van,” he testified. “The purpose was to show Shawna Forde and him the residence that they were going to.”
Navarro said he received two stories from Bush when he interviewed him shortly after his arrest. “He stated that him went to the residence of the victims with Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola but that he remained outside and he later heard shots from inside of the home and didn’t know what had happened,” he testified. “He eventually ended up going to the doorway and that’s when he got shot.”
Deputy County Attorney Kellie Johnson asked Navarro if Bush maintained that he had never entered the Flores home in the early morning hours of May 30, 2009. “Correct,” he testified.
What really happened
Navarro was asked by Johnson if he pushed Bush using evidentiary leads that had already been developed in the case. Navarro testified that Bush changed his story and admitted going into the Flores home. “He stated that Shawna Forde and him entered the house first,” he testified. “Shawna Forde announced her presence as law enforcement in order for the residents to open the door.”
Navarro testified that Bush admitted they were pretending to be agents of the U.S. Border Patrol. “He stated that he was armed with a .45 cal. handgun and that Ms. Forde was armed with a .357 revolver,” he testified. A .357 revolver was recovered by detectives outside of the Flores home.
Navarro was asked if Bush told him the source of his handgun. “He stated that he got the .45 cal. handgun from Albert Gaxiola,” he testified. “He stated that when Shawna Forde and him made entry to the home that he shot the father first, the mother second and finally that he had shot the 9-year-old girl.”
No one would be hurt
Navarro testified that Bush told him that it was his understanding that no one at the Flores home would be harmed. “He stated that prior to making entry to the home he was told by Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola that there were not to be any witnesses,” he testified.
Navarro testified that Bush told him that he and Forde had entered the Flores home first because Gaxiola was concerned that he would be recognized. “That was the reason why Shawna Forde and Jason Bush were the persons who announced their presence,” he said. “The homeowner, Raul Flores, would know Albert Gaxiola.”
Bush told Navarro that he was told their mission was to rip off marijuana owned by Raul Flores. “His understanding was that they were going to make entry and rob the residents of their marijuana,” he told the jury. “He said that he went along based on the understanding that they were going to rob marijuana.”
Navarro testified that Bush told him that he had been unwilling to shoot anyone at the Flores home. “He said that he felt threatened by Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola,” he said. “He said that prior to going in that ‘It’s them or you.’ And, prior to shooting the girl he said that they were pointing guns at him.”
Brisenia’s last moments
Bush drew a diagram for Navarro of the inside of the Flores home and the locations of the victims in the home. Navarro showed the drawing to the jury. As for what was taken from the Flores home. “He said that he knows that they took a box of jewelry and some firearms,” Navarro testified.
Bush told Navarro he was wounded in a firefight with Gina Gonzalez. “He stated that after they left the house Shawna Forde decided to go back in because she thought she forgot her .357 revolver,” he told the jury. “When she entered the home she saw the female victim on the phone and Shawna Forde stepped out and ordered him to go back in and finish her. He said he went back in there and he shot at the victim and the victim shot back and that’s when he got hit.”
Navarro testified that Gonzalez was on the phone in the kitchen and that he had reentered the Flores home by himself. “He stated that he was shot once in the leg and that he was hit a second time in his tactical vest,” he told the jury. He stated that after he left the residence he saw Albert Gaxiola go back and shoot from the doorway inside the home with what he thought was the an AK 47. After I told him that we had recovered the AK 47 from inside the home he said then he thought it was the shotgun that he shot.”
As for what happened to the .45 cal. handgun Bush told Navarro that Gaxiola took care of it. “He stated that he gave the firearm to Albert Gaxiola and that he got rid of it,” he testified.
Also testifying Wednesday were Melinda Williams, Bush’s fiancé in Meadview near Kingman and Chuck Stonex, the person who treated Bush’s gunshot wound the night of May 30, 2009. There testimony will be covered in separate posts.
After the state rested its case Wednesday, the defense rested its case without presenting any witnesses or evidence. Closing arguments in the case are set to start at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.