Friday, March 18, 2011

Parrish responds to critics in the cheap seats

Parrish responds to critics in the cheap seats

Jason Bush
One of the lawyers defending alleged double murderer Jason Eugene Bush in Pima County Superior Court has decided to answer his critics among the local bar.

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.

Earlier this week defense counsel Richard Parrish wrote in a motion filed with the court that he and co-counsel Chris Kimminau do not plan to actively defend their client during the first phase of the potentially three-phase trial.

Below is the entire text of a letter to the editor, so to speak:

I hear murmurs around the courthouse that some other lawyers are rolling their eyes at the tactics that I and my co-counsel are using in this case, namely, that we are conceding that Jason did in fact kill two people in a home invasion in Arivaca. Lawyers are always experts on other lawyers' cases! Ours is an unconventional approach to a death penalty case, but there are very well thought out and closely examined reasons for it.

My criminal defense career began in 1972 when I was hired by John Flynn, in Phoenix, as his associate. He made me his partner in 1973. I was mentored by him for three years. He had become the most famous criminal lawyer in the country, due to his win in the United States Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona. It established the national rule that defendants had to be informed of their rights before being questioned by police.

For one thing, John Flynn almost never presented an opening statement to the jury until it came time for him to present the defense case. I follow that procedure. As a result, a former head of the Public Defender’s office in Tucson openly criticised me, asserting that every defense attorney must give an initial opening statement. She has since left that office and has been succeeded by two highly sopohisticated and experienced lawyers who have lifted the skills and assuredness of the lawyers in that office.

State v. Bush is an exceedingly difficult case. In order to fully understand the state's approach to the prosecution of it, I sat through the entire state's presentation of evidence in the preceding case of State v. Shawna Forde. She claimed to be innocent and her excellent attorneys presented considerable evidence to that effect. I listened to the evidence on both sides and knew her case and Bush's case intimately from reading all of the discovery documentation that we are provided and attending or reading all of the interviews of critical witnesses. I believed that she would be convicted and sentenced to death. She was.

Mr. Bush's fundamental goal is to have his life spared by the current jury. He fully understands that the evidence against him is overwhelming and unforgiving:

1. Bush claimed to be a retired gunnery sergeant with the U.S. Marines, and that he had been a sniper on numerous special military missions;

2. A witness will testify that he and a friend were drug dealers in Arivaca, and that they wanted to kill drug dealer Raul Flores to eliminate competition;

3. Their plan was to have Bush conceal himself on a knoll some distance from Flores' house and to kill him from afar;

4. When Shawna Forde and her “Minuteman Defense” scheme entered the picture, the plan changed, and she and Bush and a third person were to enter the Flores home, ransack it for drugs and money, and sell the loot to finance a border protection scheme;

5. The wife of Raul Flores, Gina Gonzales, who survived the attack and saw her husband and nine year old daughter be murdered by the shooter, herself got a handgun out of a kitchen drawer and wounded the shooter;

6. Bush's blood (DNA) was found inside the Flores home;

7. He received treatment for his leg wound by a man named Stonex, who treated him in the presence of Shawna Forde, who claimed that Bush had been wounded in a border protection mission;

8. Bush was arrested in a hospital in Kingman a few days later, being treated for his wound;

9. He freely, without coercion or illegal promises, confessed to the crimes.

Under Arizona law, which differs from most States, the jury itself determines life or death after the evidence has been received, they have found the defendant guilty, certain aggravating factors have been proven (child killed, multiple murders, co-defendants, pecuniary gain), and they are presented evidence of "mitigation." It is the mitigation evidence which is critical to attempting to save the life of an accused. In Bush's case, there is ample evidence of very severe emotional problems beginning in early childhood and resulting in him being committed to a mental institution at the age of 11, and thereafter having continuing and constant mental problems and repeated convictions of criminal acts throughout his life.

We will ask the jury to spare his life based on these mitigating factors. We believe as attorneys that if we were to attempt to convince the jury of his innocence in the face of the facts which were proven in the Forde case and which will be proven in the Bush case, that we would utterly lose credibility in the eyes of the jurors. They would think, these slimy lawyers first try to convince us that this obviously guilty guy is innocent, now they try to tell us to spare his life because he has had a bad life. Screw 'em all.

We do not wish for this to happen. Mr. Bush does not want this to happen.