On July 15, a Pima County Superior Court jury sentenced Gaxiola, 44, to life in prison for the shooting death of Raul “Junior” Flores. The jury was unable to reach a decision regarding the appropriate punishment in the death of Brisenia.
Judge John S. Leonardo granted the motion withdrawing the death notice during a hearing Friday morning. Deputy County Attorney Rick Unklesbay told Leonardo that the Homicide Panel in the county attorney’s office had reviewed the pros and cons of continuing to seek the death penalty and that he and Deputy County Attorney Kellie Johnson had spoken with surviving victim Gina Gonzalez as to her preference. “It’s important for Mr. Gaxiola to know that Ms. Gonzalez was in agreement to withdraw this notice,” he said.
On July 1, Gaxiola, 44, was found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Flores and his daughter, as well as six other charges including attempted first-degree murder in connection with the wounding of surviving victim Gina Gonzalez.
A sentencing hearing on all eight counts is scheduled for Aug. 15 at 10:30 a.m. Now that the death request has been withdrawn Leonardo will have the option of sentencing Gaxiola to natural life in prison or life in prison with an opportunity to apply for a parole hearing after he has served 35 calendar years in prison. The 35-year threshold applies in Brisenia’s case because she was younger than 15-years-old.
In regards to the murder of Raul Flores, Leonardo could sentence Gaxiola to natural life in prison or with an opportunity to apply for a parole hearing after he has served 25 calendar years. Earlier this year, co-defendants Shawna Forde and Jason Eugene Bush were each sentenced to death by juries on the murder counts involving Raul and Brisenia Flores and they received additional prison time, Forde 65 years and Bush 78 years, for their convictions on the other six counts. Leonardo will have the option to hand down similar sentences to Gaxiola on Aug. 15.