Monday, April 25, 2011

Forde sentenced to an additional 65 years in prison

Forde's Death Row
mug shot. 

The founder of Minuteman American Defense, Shawna Forde, took a day trip Monday from Death Row in Florence to Pima County Superior Court to be sentenced on the six additional charges for which she was convicted on Feb. 14.

Forde, 43, was convicted of two counts of first-degree felony murder in the deaths of Raul “Junior” Flores and his daughter, Brisenia, 9. The jury imposed the death penalty for those two charges on Feb. 22.

It took the jury of one male and 11 females approximately seven hours in February to reach their unanimous verdicts on one count of the attempted first-degree murder of Gina 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.

Testimony from prosecution witnesses in the case painted Forde as a wannabe black ops leader who proposed to finance her Blackwater-type operations by raiding suspected drug cartel operations in and around Arivaca in southern Arizona. Testimony showed that Forde intended to take the drugs, guns and money found during those raids to finance her continuing operations.

Testimony from defense witnesses was intended to convince the jury that while Forde talked a good game that all it amount to was just talk and that someone other than Forde was responsible for leading the fatal invasion of the Flores home in the early morning hours of May 30, 2009.

During the sentencing hearing on Counts 3-8 on Monday, Judge John S. Leonardo imposed an additional 65 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Prior to announcing the sentences Leonardo addressed Forde who stood before him dressed in orange prison garb with her dark brown hair pulled back in a bun on the back of her head. “Ms. Forde, is there anything you would like to say?” asked Leonardo. “No,” was Forde’s reply.

Sentences imposed Monday:
·       Count 3—burglary in the first degree—15 years, to be served consecutively to the death penalty sentences imposed by the jury in counts 1 and 2.
·       Count 4—attempted first-degree murder—15 years to be served consecutively to the sentence imposed for count 3.
·       Count 5—aggravated assault, serious physical injury—10 years to be served consecutively the sentence imposed for count 3.
·       Count 6—aggravated assault with a deadly weapon—10 years to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed for count 5.
·       Count 7—armed robbery—15 years to be served consecutively to the sentence imposed for count 3.
·       Count 8—aggravated robbery—10 years to be served consecutively to the sentence imposed for count 3.

On the issue of restitution, Leonardo granted the prosecution 30 days in order to submit an affidavit listing the losses incurred by Gonzalez and her family. “My understanding is that Ms. Gonzalez has completed it and we should be able to get to Mr. Larsen and appellate counsel in the next few days. She just didn’t bring it with her today,” said Deputy County Attorney Rick Unklesbay.

Shortly after the hearing, Forde was led from the courtroom followed by trial counsel Eric Larsen and a team of appellate lawyers led by Natman Schaye. While appeals to the Arizona Supreme Court of the convictions and sentences imposed on the first-degree murder counts are automatic, appeals of the convictions on counts 3-8 have to be initiated by Forde and her appellate counsel and that cannot take place until sentences are imposed.

Co-defendant Jason Eugene Bush is scheduled to be sentenced for his convictions on counts 3-8 on May 13. He was sentenced to death on two counts of first-degree murder on April 5. And, co-defendant Albert Gaxiola is scheduled to begin trial with jury selection on June 1.