Pool photo by
Arizona Daily Star
The lead witness for the defense in the penalty phase of the Jason Eugene Bush death penalty case at Pima County Superior Court was the defendant's former love interest and fiance.
Last Friday, the jury returned guilty verdicts on 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. The jury further found that the murders were premeditated and were also committed while Bush was engaged in other felony activities, including 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.
Following that the jury confirmed that aggravating factors existed which make Bush eligible for the death penalty in this case.
During the first phase of the trial, Melinda Shelton, now known as Williams due to a divorce, testified about Bush leaving with co-defendant Shawna Forde a few days before the murders and then returning late at night after the murders with a bullet wound in his leg.
Williams was asked to testify regarding numerous letters, certificates and other military documents she had found in her home in the wake of Bush's arrest in connection with this case.
Hail to the chief
Defense counsel Richard Parrish asked Williams to identify a letter purported to be from former President George W. Bush. “This is the Office of the President of the United States, the White House signed by George Bush and is directed to MSgt. Jason Bush,” he said, as he started to read the letter.
“Dear Mr. Bush,
“I am deeply honored to be writing you this letter.
“Your exploits in South America have reached my desk and made for an interesting read.
“I hope that you will be settling down on your upcoming leave as I know that you are weary.
“In addition to the praise of your country, a full presidential pardon for all past offenses will be placed in your service record and a copy will be sent to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for further dissemination.
“My prayers and those of the country are with you. Go with God.
“George W. Bush”
One more letter
The was also a letter written by the deputy director from the office of the director of the National Security Agency.
“The director of the National Security Agency would like to send his gratitude and great respect to you for your service to this country.
“Your expedience in the handling of our most recent troubles was an amazing accomplishment and won’t be forgotten by us.
“I know that sometimes a person can take on only so much at one time. You have taken on more than most people could handle.
“We all hope that you will find peace on your upcoming leave. The director once again thanks you for your service to the president and to your country.
“We are all thankful that we have people such as yourself in service.”
Parrish also showed Williams a pictures of Bush and his former wife, Bush in camouflage with other soldiers, Bush holding an M-16 with others standing behind him.
There was a certificate memorializing Bush’s enlistment in the armed forces, a meritorious service award and verification of military experience and training.
Parrish also shared a document outlining the MOS (military occupation specialty) identifiers for Bush's make believe military life. They included:
- Explosive ordinance disposal
- Special forces weapons sergeant
- Special forces communications sergeant
- Counterintelligence agent
- Polygraph operator
- Foreign counterintelligence
- Special forces target interdiction operations
- Special forces military free fall and underwater operations
- Counter signals intelligence operation
Notable service by Bush while serving in the military career he invented, included:
- Argentina interdiction operations
- Columbia interdiction operations
- MSRS Antarctica signals and counter signals operations
- Argentina coastline 44 impact operations
- Columbia intelligence operations
- Belize counter signals
- Panama interdicting operations
- Ecuador interdicting operations
- Special Forces Creed plaque
- Travel vouchers for reimbursement for military travel
Parrish asked Williams if she believe any of the certificates, letters and other items that were introduced into evidence. “Did these certificates help you to reach the belief that Jason Bush had actually accomplished these things?” Parrish asked. “After I found them I didn't think so,” Williams replied. “You found them after he was arrested?” Parrish asked. “Yes,” Williams replied. “I had to clean my house after the police came.”
Williams testified on cross examination that Bush was concerned about the “military operation” he returned from on June 11, 2009. “He was a little upset about it,” she said.
“Upset about being hurt?” Deputy County Attorney Kellie Johnson asked. “Yes,” Williams replied. “But, willing to go back.”
Johnson asked Williams about the circumstances that led to Bush losing his job at the Grand Canyon Skywalk. “They did a background check, not at first, but later,” she said. “It was an outstanding warrant, I think.”
Williams testified that Bush had not revealed details regarding his life prior to their meeting on the job Skywalk. She said he had consistently lied to her about problems and issues in his past.
At the same time, Williams testified that Bush appeared to be a normal law-abiding person during their time together.
After Bush was arrested, Williams discovered that he had defrauded her and her grandmother. “I had a bank account with Jason and I also had a bank account with my grandmother,” she testified. “He deposited fraudulent money orders in both accounts.”
Both accounts became overdrawn as a result of the fraudulent money orders. “Now, we are fighting fraud charges on both accounts,” Williams added.