(pool photo by Benjie
A prosecution witness in the Pima County Superior Court double murder trial for Arivaca resident Albert Robert Gaxiola testified Tuesday that he concealed evidence from investigators because he thought they were intent on charging him with the murders from the fatal home invasion that resulted in the deaths of Raul “Junior” Flores, 29, and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia.
Gaxiola, 43, faces two counts of first-degree murder in the May 30, 2009 deaths of Flores and his daughter. Additional charges include: 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.
Both Forde and co-defendant Jason Eugene Bush have been tried and convicted on the same charges. Forde received two death sentences plus 65 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections and Bush received two death sentences and 78 years in prison.
Lies, lies and more lies
Oakstar, 40, admitted to the jury that he was aware, on May 30, 2009, that the homicides at the Flores home involved a 9-year-old girl. “At that time I believed that they were trying to charge me with it,” he admitted.
Defense attorney Jack L. Lansdale asked Oakstar if he lied because of the perceived circumstances he found himself in. “Absolutely,” he said.
Lansdale quoted from the May 30 interview with detectives where they asked: “That’s some fucked-up shit?” Oakstar relied: “there you go.” He continued: “Don’t ever do it in town with family, that’s just wrong, that’s just wrong.”
Lansdale also asked Oakstar about his testimony on Jan. 28 in the Forde trial where he said that Gaxiola told him he had been in Tucson at the time of the fatal home invasion. It was then that Gaxiola asked Oakstar to take painkillers for Jason Bush to his home in Arivaca.
Life of crime
Oakstar has been in and out of state and federal prison for convictions involving drug smuggling. He is currently in the Arizona Department of Corrections for his conviction on the charge of being a prohibited possessor of a firearm. He recalled becoming involved in criminal activity around the age of 13. “I was helping to smuggle marijuana into the United States,” he testified. “I started out as somebody who would backpack marijuana across the border from Mexico. From there I took a step up to transporting, driving from out of the mountains south of Arivaca into town and from there I progressed to driving it all the way into Tucson.”
Oakstar explained that each step up the ladder in the drug business provides additional income. “Finally, I purchased my own (marijuana) and transported my own (marijuana) from Mexico to Tucson,” he said. “I’ve smuggled heroin and cocaine on occasion but it was too much of a risk.”
Oakstar admitted to having a drug problem of his own stretching back to before he became involve in any smuggling operations. “It’s been the bane of my existence my whole life,” he told the jury. “My drug of choice was heroin.”
Oakstar was asked how he came to know Gaxiola. “I was introduced to him be Eddie Valdez,” he said.
Oakstar testified that he and Gaxiola developed a working relationship transporting marijuana from Mexico. “We also got high together,” he added.
Oakstar testified that in February 2009 he, Gaxiola and a female, he knew as Gina, stole a load of marijuana from a stash house near Arivaca. “Normally, I would not have messed with somebody else’s stuff, but this particular load was going to be stolen by the owner of it and then blamed on a friend of mine,” he explained.
Oakstar said Gaxiola sold the stolen marijuana and that he made some money as a result of the sale. “At first I believed it belonged to the person who transported it. His name was Tony,” he testified. “Within a week I found out that Tony had been moving it for somebody else.”
That somebody else was Junior Flores, which led Oakstar and Gaxiola to become concerned regarding potential retribution. “He knew we had taken it so there was a credible threat to our lives,” Oakstar testified.
(pool photo by Benjie
At first, Oakstar and Gaxiola discussed the need for being prepared for retribution from Flores, but those discussions, which involved Valdez, soon because talk of a preemptive strike against Flores. “The first time we really discussed taking Junior out, killing Junior, was in Eddie’s presence because he was the one that would have to give us the green light to do it,” he explained. “He was in a position at that time with the people down south that he could approve or not approve that type of action.”
During opening statements is the trial, Lansdale told the jury that Valdez has been subpoenaed to testify and that he recently gave a statement to attorneys in the case that the conversation regarding the green light to take out Flores never happened.
Lansdale asked Oakstar if Flores received his marijuana shipments from the same source in Mexico as his and Albert’s. Lansdale also reminded Oakstar that he had told detectives that “the Junior problem might take care of itself because he had angered some people in Mexico.”
Lansdale asked Oakstar to confirm if he made an offer to wear a wire in an effort to secure a confession from Valdez. “Correct,” Oakstar testified.
When asked about the position held by Valdez he referred to him as “Jefe,” which according to the Urban Dictionary the term “El Jefe” means “the boss in Spanish.” Oakstar said Valdez represented the leadership of drug suppliers in Mexico. Oakstar said Valdez is also known as Eddie Perez. “That’s his mother’s last name,” he said. Oakstar said Valdez lives south of Arivaca off of Ruby Road.
Shawna and Jason
Towards the end of May 2009, Oakstar was introduced to co-defendant Shawna Forde. “The very first time we met she was introduced by the name of Toni. Later, I was told that her real name was Shawna Forde,” he said. That was on a field trip to what is known as The Buffalo Ranch.”
Using the Google Maps aerial view, Oakstar pointed out the homes of Raul Flores and his brother, Victor Flores, while showing the jury the route he had taken with Forde and Bush in the teal-colored van around midday on May 29. “Albert had just bought it recently in Tucson and brought it down to use to smuggle with,” he said.
On the evening of May 29, according to Oakstar he was met by Gaxiola at the home of Sandy Stroup a person he was “sleeping with.” Gaxiola expected he to accompany him to the Flores home. “I told him I had too much to drink,” he said. “I had been drinking, but I was not too drunk to go with him. I didn’t want to go.”
The defense will resume questioning Oakstar Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m.