The Pima County Superior Court jury that will decide if former Arivaca resident Albert Robert Gaxiola spends the rest of his life in prison or is executed by lethal injection heard evidence Tuesday morning of other alleged crimes committed by co-defendants Jason Eugene Bush and Shawna Forde.
On July 1, Gaxiola, 44, was found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Raul “Junior” Flores and his daughter Brisenia, as well as six other charges. Earlier this year, Bush and Forde were found guilty on the same charges in separate trials. They both ended up with death sentences imposed by the juries hearing the evidence of their crimes.
Pima County Sheriff’s Department Det. Juan Carlos Navarro was called back to the witness stand by the defense to answer questions regarding an armed robbery/home invasion and a burglary theta took place in Redding Lake and Shasta Lake, Calif., shortly after the fatal home invasion in Arivaca.
Navarro confirmed that Forde and Bush stayed at the Alamo Motel in Cottonwood, Calif., June 6-9, 2009. He also confirmed that an armed robbery took place on June 8, 2009, at the home of a neighbor of Rena Caudle, the biological mother of Shawna Forde. “It was a home invasion where two individuals broke into the house and eventually stole $12,000,” said Navarro.
Navarro testified that one of the suspects had a U.S. Marshal Service badge and the victims later identified that suspect as Bush. Also, a badge for the U.S. Marshal Service was taken into evidence among the property found in the possession of Bush.
Navarro also confirmed there was a burglary at the home of Meryl Metzger, Forde’s half-brother, where a safe was stolen. Navarro testified there was evidence that Forde and Bush had asked to borrow a crowbar from the staff at the Alamo Hotel for the purpose of opening a safe.
Navarro learned that during an April 2009 visit to Caudle in Redding, Calif., the neighbor who was later robbed was visiting and in Forde’s presence mentioned a recent inheritance that she intended to keep at home. The day after the Arivaca murders Forde contacted Caudle for the address of her neighbor, who was robbed soon thereafter.
On cross-examination, Navarro testified that no arrest warrants had been issued for the arrests of either Bush or Forde in connection with those incidents.
Washington cold cases
Navarro was also asked to testify about a pair of homicides that may have been committed by Bush in 1997 in the Wenatchee, Wash. area.
The alleged murders committed on July 24, 1997 and Sept. 21, 1997, were the subject of litigation during the Bush trial. A motion by defense counsel stated that the murders of Hector Lopez and Jon Bumstead “will simply turn this case into the trial of a serial killer who has never had the opportunity to defend against allegations arising from murders which occurred 14 years ago. To do so would be breathtakingly prejudicial and distracting to the jury.”
According to reports from Washington, on July 24, 1997, Hector Lopez Partida, a transient, is found stabbed in a parking lot on South Wenatchee Avenue. He died later at Central Washington Hospital. No suspects were found, but police found a discarded shirt within 100 yards of where Lopez was attacked. Blood on the shirt reportedly belonged to Lopez.
On Sept. 21, 1997, the body of Jon Bumstead, 19, of East Wenatchee, was found in a remote area of Douglas County near Palisades. Bumstead had been shot twice with a rifle and killed. No arrests were made.
In January 2009, a state lab in Washington found DNA belonging to Bush on the discarded shirt found near the Lopez murder.
On June 12, 2009, Bush was charged in Chelan County Superior Court with second-degree murder in the death of Lopez. Also in June of 2009, a confidential informant, working with Wenatchee police on the Lopez murder, told law enforcement officers that Bush, who had been friends with Bumstead, had killed Bumstead. Later in June 2009, Bush, in an interview with Wenatchee Police Sgt. John Kruse, denied killing Lopez or Bumstead.
On July 31, 2009, Bush was charged in Douglas County Superior Court with first-degree murder in connection with the Bumstead murder. Bond was set at $1 million. While a request for extradition was made, there was been no execution of a governor’s warrant that would allow for Bush to be transferred to Douglas County Superior Court to stand trial.
Navarro also testified regarding his interview with Bush in Kingman shortly after his arrest. During that interview, Bush told Navarro that it was Gaxiola’s orders that forced him inside the Flores home where he shot and killed Junior Flores and his daughter, Brisenia, using a .45 cal. automatic supplied by Gaxiola. Bush also told Navarro that after he had been shot in the exchange of gunfire with Gonzalez that Gaxiola had been the one who took a final shot through the front door with what appeared to be a shotgun.