The Pima County Superior Court jury hearing the double murder allegations against Jason Eugene Bush received their first exposure Wednesday to the Minutemen border watch activities.
Bush, 36, is charged with 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, 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.
The former New Mexico director for Minutemen American Defense testified for the prosecution. “Minutemen are basically a group of concerned American citizens that are mostly focused on doing their part to slow down or stop or control illegal immigration,” said Chuck Stonex, who first met Forde in October 2008. “We are kind of like the eyes and ears for the Border Patrol. We are not law enforcement, by no means. It’s kind of like a neighborhood watch.”
Stonex had come to Cochise County Memorial Day weekend in 2009. “I was here to attend a barbeque at a friend’s home in Hereford, Ariz.,” he testified. “He’s one of the big players in the Minutemen. Glenn Spencer is his name.” Spencer is the founder of the American Border Patrol.
Stonex said that other than email and phone calls he had no contact with Forde since October 2008. “She was also supposed to go to that barbeque,” he testified.
Stonex had testified that he had heard from Forde in those emails and phone calls about someone named “Gunny” in October 2008. Defense attorney Chris Kimminau asked Stonex if he knew for certain if the person referred to as “Gunny” as actually Jason Bush. “It could have been you,” he quipped. “A gunny is an E7 sergeant in the United States Marine Corp. It’s called a gunnery sergeant.”
Kimminau asked Stonex about how Bush told him about his service in the U.S. Army. “Quite well decorated, too,” he commented. “I said if you were in the army why in the hell do you call yourself gunny? He said ‘It just sounds better.’”
Kimminau asked Stonex about a stack of documents Bush had shown to him where he was depicted as an E8 master sergeant in the army. Kimminau asked Stonex if he had seen documentation that Bush had done tours of duty in Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Kimminau asked Stonex if Bush had documentation that he had first aide training, parachute training, marksmanship training and a a silver star award. “Yes,” Stonex answered to each item. “Very authentic.”
The morning of May 30, Forde called Stonex where he was staying in Tombstone. “She had called me that morning and she told that they had been down around Douglas, Ariz., and had gotten jumped by bandits and that she had a man that was hurt and wanted to know if I had a medical kit,” he recalled.
Stonex agreed to go to Arivaca after attending the barbeque. At that event, Stonex met Laine Lawless for the first time. Lawless asked if she could accompany him to Arivaca as she was anxious to meet Forde.
Stonex and Lawless arrived in Arivaca just after sundown on the evening of May 30. Forde who was driving a teal blue Astro van met them at the Arivaca Mercantile. “He was in the bedroom and had a bandage around his shin,” he testified.
Stonex was not impressed with the bullet wound in Bush’s leg. “It looked like a 10-year-old who had done a crash and burn on first base,” he quipped. “It was very slight, about an inch wide and two inches long.”
Stonex was asked about Bush’s box that contained is military gear. “He had a big old box. I call it a war box. I’ve got one myself,” he said.
Pool photo by
Arizona Daily Star
After Stonex had finished treating Bush, conversation turned to the failed operation from the night before. Forde commented that Bush was dressed in camouflage with his face blacked out. “What she said was ‘If you want to see something scary you should seen him in face paint last night,’” he testified. “And, he said that was pretty scary and kind of chuckled about it.”
Deputy County Attorney Rick Unklesbay asked Stonex if he had ever observed any members of the Minutemen use face paint on their border watch operations. “No,” Stonex said. “I’ve seen them out there in bright yellow shirts.”
Stonex saw Forde and Bush at a motel in Tucson on the Monday after the home invasion. “They said it was really hot in Arivaca, there had been all kinds of shooting, there’s been all kinds of stuff and the police are everywhere,” he said.
Stonex testified that Bush showed him various items as they were visiting following treatment for the gunshot wound. “Laine Lawless was spotted a flashlight and ammo clip for a Ruger 10-22 rifle that was broken out,” he testified. “He was talking about how that flashlight, in his terms, saved his ass because it took a hit from a bullet. He said he had it clipped on his vest and the bullet hit it.”
Stonex questioned Bush about whether he was wearing a ballistic plate behind it in the vest. “He said he wasn’t. He had some for his vest, but he didn’t have it in. He said the next time he would make sure to have it in there,” he recalled.
At the meeting in Tucson, Stonex testified that Bush held up a bullet. “He said this is my souvenir from the other night,” he told the jury. “It was a hollow point, .40 cal. bullet.”
Stonex testified he was familiar with that type of ammunition as his personal weapon as a .40 cal. Springfield.
Stonex was asked about when he learned of the fatal home invasion in Arivaca. “The incident in Arivaca at the Flores home was not on the news until Sunday morning,” he said.
As Stonex was leaving the courtroom, he stopped in front of Gina Gonzalez. He shook her had and wished her good luck with the rest of her life.
Also testifying Wednesday was Melinda Shelton, who is now using the last name Williams after her divorce. Williams had met Bush at the Grand Canyon Skywalk where she worked as a photographer and he worked as a maintenance technician.
When asked to identify Bush Williams paused for an emotional moment before describing where he was seated and what he was wearing. “I left my ex-husband to be with Jason,” Williams testified.
Williams testified that Bush had moved into her home in January 2009. She also recounted when Bush was picked up by Forde prior to the home invasion and how he returned two weeks later in the middle of the night only to be arrested by detectives from the sheriff’s department.