|Jason Bush with his counsel, Richard|
Parrish and Chris Kimminau. Pool photo
by Dean Knuth, Arizona Daily Star
The Pima County Superior Court jury hearing the sentencing phase of the death penalty trial for Jason Eugene Bush has been taught to hate the defendant.
Defense counsel Richard Parrish told the jury in his opening statement that the lack of a defense presentation should have shown the jury that he and his co-counsel Chris Kimminau were not contesting the guilt of their client. “Mr. Kimminau was very, very careful to avoid during the entire presentation of the state’s case any inference that what was done by Jason Bush was proper and excusable or justified,” he said.
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. “It was not proper, it was not excusable and it was not justifiable,” Parrish stated. “No one contested for a moment, not one uttered word that this was not a tragic, inexcusable, terrible act and that murder occurred to two people and that he did it.”
Taught to hate
Parrish suggested that the jury was taught to hate his client during the first two phases of the trial. “You were shown photographs of every wound, every bullet that goes into one of the victim’s bodies. You were shown the face of a little girl that is destroyed by bullets,” he said, in a raised voice. “Why? Is it not enough to say that two people, without justification, were murdered? No. You have to be taught to really hate Jason Bush.”
|Deputy County Attorney|
Pool photoby Dean Knuth,
Arizona Daily Star
Deputy County Attorney Kellie Johnson told the jury that the evidence they saw during the first two phases of the trial was designed to prove to them that Bush was guilty of the crimes that he committed. “It was not meant to teach you to hate. It was not meant to prejudice you, but it was meant to teach you what it is that he did,” she said. “What this about is you deciding what is the appropriate punishment.”
Parrish said he is charged with standing before the jury to convince them that hatred is not an appropriate message to be sent. Parrish told the jury they would be shown evidence of the fantasy life that Bush had invented for himself as a military hero.
Parrish said the jury will hear about how Bush’s father may have been exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and that it was his parent’s belief that the side effects of that chemical may have been passed along to Bush. “You will hear her tell you that from the age of two on that this kid was incorrigible,” he said.
Parrish said that when his client reached the age of 11 that his parents legally disowned him. “His father put him into a mental institution where he was sexually assault and abused by the older boys,” he said. “While it is true that the acts he committed are incredibly terrible it is also true that from early on in his life everyone literally abandoned him”
Parrish told the jury that Bush had spent a lot of time in jail and prison but had not received any help. “They marched him from psychologist to psychiatrist who didn’t help him because they don’t do that in these institutions,” he said. “Psychologists and psychiatrists in these institutions where kids go and then adults go are there to protect the institution. They don’t have the training to cure. They march him from place to place, from prison to prison, from jail to jail and they bring him here and they say ‘Here you kill him.’”
Johnson urged the jury to consider the facts and return the appropriate verdicts. “He clearly has the capacity to know that his conduct was wrong and certainly had the ability at any time to say I’m not doing this but chose to do it anyway,” she said. “We will ask you to impose the appropriate penalty and that is death.”
Parrish echoed Johnson’s request that the jury return the appropriate verdicts. “All we want is what you promised use that you would do. You assured us that you could not and would not sentence anyone to death until you had heard all of the mitigating factors,” he said.