|Raul and Brisenia|
The sentencing phase for Jason Eugene Bush in his double murder trial at Pima County Superior Court began this morning with an emotional victim impact statement from the surviving victim in the case, Gina Gonzalez.
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.
In the sentencing phase of the trial the jury normally hears from any surviving victims as to the impact the crimes have had on them. Prior to testimony, Gonzalez read a statement outlining the impact the murders of her husband and daughter have had on her life. “The murder of my husband and daughter on May 30, 2009, has changed my life forever,” she told the jury. “I went to bed in heaven and woke up in hell.”
Persons claiming they were law enforcement officers searching for escaped fugitives had awakened the Flores family shortly before 1 a.m. “My husband opened the door innocently thinking that every thing would be okay,” Gonzalez said.
Instead, the defendant shot and killed her husband as he stood in the living room of his home. “When Junior was shot I was scared and thought that I was going to die,” Gonzalez said. “My husband asked the defendant what was going on. He stated ‘Don’t take this personal, but this bullet has your name on it.’”
After Gonzalez had been shot twice and lay on the floor in front of the love seat where her daughter, Brisenia, was sleeping she feared for her life and the life of her daughter. “When my baby was approached she began to answer questions about the whereabouts of her sister. She told him her sister was at her grandma’s house. She was told she would be okay,” Gonzalez recounted for the jury. “I heard her say ‘Please don’t shoot me.’ My daughter was shot at close range like she was worth nothing, close enough to almost blow her face completely off. To think of how scared she was to see a man with his face painted black must have been extremely scary for her.”
Gonzalez told the jury that her daughter was very brave considering the threat to her safety. “She never looked away from the defendant. She looked him right in the eye and begged him not to shoot her,” she said. “The defendant told her that no one would hurt her and that everything would be okay. He lied.”
Gonzalez told the jury about the sorrow she experienced when she had to bury her husband and daughter. “It saddened me to know that her face had to be reconstructed for her funeral. It was hard to see my child in the casket. It was hard to see my husband in the casket,” she said. “It was overwhelming and it still is.”
Why did this happen?
Gonzalez then asked a rhetorical question. “What could a 9-year-old possibly done to deserve getting shot like that? I don’t understand how someone could have that much hate in her heart,” she said.
Gonzalez then shared some memories with the jury. “Brisenia loved the color yellow, loved to draw and her favorite Disney princess was Belle,” she said. “Most of all, she loved changing clothes. She had a morning, afternoon and evening outfit. As you can imagine, laundry was not fun for me.”
Gonzalez said her husband was kind, gentle and he best friend. “Junior and I had been together since he was 15-years-old. We were two-and-a-half months short of being married 13 years,” she said. “We had built our lives together and were looking forward to growing old. He had a great sense of humor, was a great cook and loved his little girls very much.”
Gonzalez said her other daughter still struggles with the reality of the situation. “Alexandra expresses quite often that she misses her father and she has not reached the point to where she is able to talk about her little sister,” she told the jury.
Gonzalez concluded by stating that she has questions that probably will never be answered. “It’s hard for me to understand how this all happened. I have so many questions that will remain unanswered. I just want to know why,” she said.
She pointedly addressed Bush as he sat at the defense table without emotion. “You chose to exchange my husband and daughter’s lives for a souvenir that you bragged about, almost like you had won a medal for what you had done to my family,” she said. “I miss my husband. I miss my daughter. I miss my family. I miss my life. That’s all because of a choice that he made for me.”