One of the planners of the shootings testified, Tuesday afternoon, to a Pima County Superior Court jury regarding his involvement and the involvement of convicted double murderer Shawna Forde and accused codefendants Jason Eugene Bush and Albert Gaxiola in the deadly, May 30, 2009, home invasion.
Photo by Dean Knuth
/Arizona Daily Star
Bush, 36, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Raul “Junior” Flores and his daughter, Brisenia, 9, 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.
During the trial for Forde, longtime Arivaca drug dealer Oin Oakstar had testified about the so-called Arivaca rules. Those rules were that the killing of a rival drug dealer was “business,” but that the rival drug dealer’s wife and children were off-limits. “Women and children are not part of it,” Oakstar testified. “There’s no reason to bring them into it.”
Oakstar testified that he and Gaxiola considered Flores to be a rival in the drug business and they had started talking about eliminating him as competition in late 2008 and early 2009.
Oakstar had testified during the Forde trial that there was no discussion of harming the remainder the of the Flores family. “There was no reason to involve his family,” Oakstar testified. “This was business.”
Defense counsel Chris Kimminau asked Oakstar if he and Gaxiola had been working for an individual known as Eddie who controls drug trafficking in the Arivaca area. Oakstar admitted involvement in the theft of marijuana from Flores prior to the deadly home invasion. “You were concerned that Junior had actually put out a hit on you or would actually kill you?” Kimminau asked. “Yes,” Oakstar answered. “You thought you would take care of him before he took care of you, right?” Kimminau asked. “Yes,” Oakstar answered.
Kimminau asked Oakstar if he was an “old school” drug trafficker where one operation would control an area. “Junior was moving in on you, right?” Kimminau asked. “Yes,” Oakstar answered. “You decided that you were going to kill Junior, right?” Kimminau asked. “Yes,” Oakstar answered.
Kimminau asked if Oakstar and Gaxiola had to go to Eddie to obtain his blessing to kill Flores. Oakstar agreed with Kimminau that Gaxiola was more aggressive in the belief that Flores needed to be eliminated. “You wanted to be very careful about the circumstances under which you killed Mr. Flores, right?” Kimminau asked. “Yes,” Oakstar answered. “On the other hand, Albert just wanted to get it done, right?” Kimminau asked. “Yes,” Oakstar answered.
|Oin Oakstar taken into custiody.|
Photo by Dan Shearer,
Green Valley News
Kimminau asked Oakstar about the way in which Flores handled his drug operation. “Although he was a big drug dealer down in Arivaca he did not keep any drugs at his house, right?” Kimminau asked. “Yes,” Oakstar replied.
Kimminau suggested to Oakstar that Gaxiola was a dangerous individual. “It was not beyond him to kill people?” he asked. “Not at all,” Oakstar replied. “It was not beyond him to threaten people?” Kimminau asked. “He threatened me,” Oakstar replied. “He threatened you with a gun?” Kimminau asked. “Yes,” Oakstar replied. “In other words, if you didn’t do what he told you he was going to kill you and he was going to do it with a gun?” Kimminau asked. “That would be my understanding,” Oakstar replied.
After Oakstar was first introduced to Forde, discussions center on their mutual interests. Oakstar and Gaxiola wanted to eliminate their perceived competition and Forde was looking for a source of funding for her Minutemen American Defense organization. “She said she had somebody she could bring in who would be perfect for the problem,” Oakstar testified.
Two or three days prior to the shootings Oakstar met Bush for the first time. “I had been told Jason was a sniper or had been a sniper in the military.”
Oakstar identified Bush as he sat at the defense table in the courtroom as the person who Forde brought to Arivaca to handle their mutual problem. “It seems like he’s lost a lot of weight, grown his hair long and wearing glasses,” he testified.
Oakstar is big in stature himself. “He might be taller than myself,” he said. “How tall are you?” asked Deputy County Attorney Rick Unklesbay. “Six-foot-three,” Oakstar replied.
Oakstar was asked by Gaxiola and Forde to bring painkillers the day after the killings to Gaxiola’s house where Bush was dealing with a gunshot wound. “He told me he had shot Junior, his daughter and his wife,” he testified.
Ahead of schedule
Finally, Unklesbay informed Leonardo that he anticipated the state to rest its case Wednesday afternoon. Kimminau confirmed that the defense has no intention of presenting any witnesses during this phase of the trial. Closing arguments would take place on Thursday morning. Should bush be found guilty of murder then the aggravation phase that would make Bush eligible for the death penalty would take place on Friday. If Bush was found to be eligible for death, the penalty phase could start either Tuesday or Wednesday next week. That phase would not conclude prior to April 5 as two medical experts and Bush’s father are scheduled to testify that day.