Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jason Bush is a paranoid schizophrenic


The Pima County Superior Court jury charged with deciding if convicted double murderer Jason Eugene Bush should spend the rest of his life in prison or be put to death was told, Thursday, that he is a paranoid schizophrenic.

Last Friday, the jury returned guilty verdicts on 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. The jury further found that the murders were premeditated and were also committed while Bush was engaged in other felony activities, including 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.

Following that the jury confirmed that aggravating factors existed which make Bush eligible for the death penalty in this case.

Quantitative EEG



Test results for Bush
Dr. B. Robert Crago, clinical director of Neurobehavioral Health Services in Tucson, performed a quantitative EEG, on Bush prior to the start of the trial.

A quantitative EEG is a test which is a scientifically established method for evaluating brain function based on brain electrical activity mapping. “The test is called a quantitative EEG,” Crago testified. “An EEG is a measure of the brain's electrical activity. It's performed by putting some electrodes on the scalp and recording that discharge from the brain.”

Crago takes the data recorded from the EEG and performs an analysis using a computer. He began his explanation with a look at a graphic displaying 19 channels of electrical activity from Bush's brain. “This is what a sample of that data would look like. Each one of those is one second of data,” Crago said, referring to a projection of data in the courtroom. “We took that data and compared it to what we call norms. It is a measure of brain electrical activity that is quantified and compared to an objective database to tell us just how deviant or not so deviant it is.”

Crago told the jury that he was asked to evaluate Bush by another psychologist and by his lawyer. “In Mr. Bush's case I was asked to decide if there was any evidence of abnormalities and if so what would they be consistent with,” he testified. “The impression was, that first of all, this is a very deviant EEG. The test cannot say that he is paranoid schizophrenic. The test can only say deviant.”

Paranoid schizophrenia

Crago suggested that paranoid schizophrenia is different from schizophrenia. “These people are sometimes highly organized. Their thinking rather than being loose and disorganized is actually overly rigid and tight,” he explained. “They're not flexible. They tend to have very black and white views of the world. Paranoids are the ones that tend to get missed in clinical interviews.”

Deputy County Attorney Rick Unklesbay challenged the use of the quantitative EEG as the “gold standard” for determining brain abnormalities. “The reality is that it is the most reliable, the most specific test out there because it is objective,” Crago testified.

Crago admitted that he did not request the data from previous EEG tests given to Bush years ago. Those tests had been interpreted as being “normal” at the time they were administered. “You are comparing an x-ray to an MRI,” Crago suggested. “His brain is not normal. It's sluggish. It's disconnected.”

Bush, the decorated hero who really wasn't


Jason Bush
Pool photo by
Dean Knuth,
Arizona Daily Star

The lead witness for the defense in the penalty phase of the Jason Eugene Bush death penalty case at Pima County Superior Court was the defendant's former love interest and fiance.

Last Friday, the jury returned guilty verdicts on 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. The jury further found that the murders were premeditated and were also committed while Bush was engaged in other felony activities, including 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.

Following that the jury confirmed that aggravating factors existed which make Bush eligible for the death penalty in this case.

During the first phase of the trial, Melinda Shelton, now known as Williams due to a divorce, testified about Bush leaving with co-defendant Shawna Forde a few days before the murders and then returning late at night after the murders with a bullet wound in his leg.

Williams was asked to testify regarding numerous letters, certificates and other military documents she had found in her home in the wake of Bush's arrest in connection with this case.

Hail to the chief

Defense counsel Richard Parrish asked Williams to identify a letter purported to be from former President George W. Bush. “This is the Office of the President of the United States, the White House signed by George Bush and is directed to MSgt. Jason Bush,” he said, as he started to read the letter.

Dear Mr. Bush,
I am deeply honored to be writing you this letter.
Your exploits in South America have reached my desk and made for an interesting read.
I hope that you will be settling down on your upcoming leave as I know that you are weary.
In addition to the praise of your country, a full presidential pardon for all past offenses will be placed in your service record and a copy will be sent to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for further dissemination.
My prayers and those of the country are with you. Go with God.
Yours truly,
George W. Bush”

One more letter

The was also a letter written by the deputy director from the office of the director of the National Security Agency.
The director of the National Security Agency would like to send his gratitude and great respect to you for your service to this country.
Your expedience in the handling of our most recent troubles was an amazing accomplishment and won’t be forgotten by us.
I know that sometimes a person can take on only so much at one time. You have taken on more than most people could handle.
We all hope that you will find peace on your upcoming leave. The director once again thanks you for your service to the president and to your country.
We are all thankful that we have people such as yourself in service.”

Parrish also showed Williams a pictures of Bush and his former wife, Bush in camouflage with other soldiers, Bush holding an M-16 with others standing behind him.

There was a certificate memorializing Bush’s enlistment in the armed forces, a meritorious service award and verification of military experience and training.

MOS?

Parrish also shared a document outlining the MOS (military occupation specialty) identifiers for Bush's make believe military life. They included:
  • Infantryman
  • Explosive ordinance disposal
  • Special forces weapons sergeant
  • Special forces communications sergeant
  • Counterintelligence agent
  • Pathfinder
  • Sniper
  • Polygraph operator
  • Foreign counterintelligence
  • Special forces target interdiction operations
  • Special forces military free fall and underwater operations
  • Counter signals intelligence operation
  • Cryptanalysis
  • Reconnaissance
Notable service?

Notable service by Bush while serving in the military career he invented, included:
  • Argentina interdiction operations
  • Columbia interdiction operations
  • MSRS Antarctica signals and counter signals operations
  • Argentina coastline 44 impact operations
  • Columbia intelligence operations
  • Belize counter signals
  • Panama interdicting operations
  • Ecuador interdicting operations
  • Special Forces Creed plaque
  • Travel vouchers for reimbursement for military travel
Parrish asked Williams if she believe any of the certificates, letters and other items that were introduced into evidence. “Did these certificates help you to reach the belief that Jason Bush had actually accomplished these things?” Parrish asked. “After I found them I didn't think so,” Williams replied. “You found them after he was arrested?” Parrish asked. “Yes,” Williams replied. “I had to clean my house after the police came.”

Upset

Williams testified on cross examination that Bush was concerned about the “military operation” he returned from on June 11, 2009. “He was a little upset about it,” she said.

Upset about being hurt?” Deputy County Attorney Kellie Johnson asked. “Yes,” Williams replied. “But, willing to go back.”

Johnson asked Williams about the circumstances that led to Bush losing his job at the Grand Canyon Skywalk. “They did a background check, not at first, but later,” she said. “It was an outstanding warrant, I think.”

Williams testified that Bush had not revealed details regarding his life prior to their meeting on the job Skywalk. She said he had consistently lied to her about problems and issues in his past.

At the same time, Williams testified that Bush appeared to be a normal law-abiding person during their time together.

After Bush was arrested, Williams discovered that he had defrauded her and her grandmother. “I had a bank account with Jason and I also had a bank account with my grandmother,” she testified. “He deposited fraudulent money orders in both accounts.”

Both accounts became overdrawn as a result of the fraudulent money orders. “Now, we are fighting fraud charges on both accounts,” Williams added.

Bush jury has been taught to hate him during the first two phases of the trial


Jason Bush with his counsel, Richard
Parrish and Chris Kimminau. Pool photo
by Dean Knuth, Arizona Daily Star

The Pima County Superior Court jury hearing the sentencing phase of the death penalty trial for Jason Eugene Bush has been taught to hate the defendant.

Defense counsel Richard Parrish told the jury in his opening statement that the lack of a defense presentation should have shown the jury that he and his co-counsel Chris Kimminau were not contesting the guilt of their client. “Mr. Kimminau was very, very careful to avoid during the entire presentation of the state’s case any inference that what was done by Jason Bush was proper and excusable or justified,” he said.

Last Friday, the jury returned guilty verdicts on 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. The jury further found that the murders were premeditated and were also committed while Bush was engaged in other felony activities, including 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.

Following that the jury confirmed that aggravating factors existed which make Bush eligible for the death penalty in this case. “It was not proper, it was not excusable and it was not justifiable,” Parrish stated. “No one contested for a moment, not one uttered word that this was not a tragic, inexcusable, terrible act and that murder occurred to two people and that he did it.”

Taught to hate

Parrish suggested that the jury was taught to hate his client during the first two phases of the trial. “You were shown photographs of every wound, every bullet that goes into one of the victim’s bodies. You were shown the face of a little girl that is destroyed by bullets,” he said, in a raised voice. “Why? Is it not enough to say that two people, without justification, were murdered? No. You have to be taught to really hate Jason Bush.”

Deputy County Attorney
Kellie Johnson.
Pool photoby Dean Knuth,
Arizona Daily Star
Deputy County Attorney Kellie Johnson told the jury that the evidence they saw during the first two phases of the trial was designed to prove to them that Bush was guilty of the crimes that he committed. “It was not meant to teach you to hate. It was not meant to prejudice you, but it was meant to teach you what it is that he did,” she said. “What this about is you deciding what is the appropriate punishment.”

Parrish said he is charged with standing before the jury to convince them that hatred is not an appropriate message to be sent. Parrish told the jury they would be shown evidence of the fantasy life that Bush had invented for himself as a military hero.

Parrish said the jury will hear about how Bush’s father may have been exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and that it was his parent’s belief that the side effects of that chemical may have been passed along to Bush. “You will hear her tell you that from the age of two on that this kid was incorrigible,” he said.

Abandoned

Parrish said that when his client reached the age of 11 that his parents legally disowned him. “His father put him into a mental institution where he was sexually assault and abused by the older boys,” he said. “While it is true that the acts he committed are incredibly terrible it is also true that from early on in his life everyone literally abandoned him”

Parrish told the jury that Bush had spent a lot of time in jail and prison but had not received any help. “They marched him from psychologist to psychiatrist who didn’t help him because they don’t do that in these institutions,” he said. “Psychologists and psychiatrists in these institutions where kids go and then adults go are there to protect the institution. They don’t have the training to cure. They march him from place to place, from prison to prison, from jail to jail and they bring him here and they say ‘Here you kill him.’”

Appropriate verdicts

Johnson urged the jury to consider the facts and return the appropriate verdicts. “He clearly has the capacity to know that his conduct was wrong and certainly had the ability at any time to say I’m not doing this but chose to do it anyway,” she said. “We will ask you to impose the appropriate penalty and that is death.”

Parrish echoed Johnson’s request that the jury return the appropriate verdicts. “All we want is what you promised use that you would do. You assured us that you could not and would not sentence anyone to death until you had heard all of the mitigating factors,” he said. 

Sentencing phase of the Bush murder trial starts with a statement from Gina Gonzalez

Raul and Brisenia
Flores

The sentencing phase for Jason Eugene Bush in his double murder trial at Pima County Superior Court began this morning with an emotional victim impact statement from the surviving victim in the case, Gina Gonzalez.

Last Friday, the jury returned guilty verdicts on 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. The jury further found that the murders were premeditated and were also committed while Bush was engaged in other felony activities, including 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. Following that the jury confirmed that aggravating factors existed which make Bush eligible for the death penalty in this case.

Victim impact

In the sentencing phase of the trial the jury normally hears from any surviving victims as to the impact the crimes have had on them. Prior to testimony, Gonzalez read a statement outlining the impact the murders of her husband and daughter have had on her life. “The murder of my husband and daughter on May 30, 2009, has changed my life forever,” she told the jury. “I went to bed in heaven and woke up in hell.”

Persons claiming they were law enforcement officers searching for escaped fugitives had awakened the Flores family shortly before 1 a.m. “My husband opened the door innocently thinking that every thing would be okay,” Gonzalez said.

Instead, the defendant shot and killed her husband as he stood in the living room of his home. “When Junior was shot I was scared and thought that I was going to die,” Gonzalez said. “My husband asked the defendant what was going on. He stated ‘Don’t take this personal, but this bullet has your name on it.’”

Fear

After Gonzalez had been shot twice and lay on the floor in front of the love seat where her daughter, Brisenia, was sleeping she feared for her life and the life of her daughter. “When my baby was approached she began to answer questions about the whereabouts of her sister. She told him her sister was at her grandma’s house. She was told she would be okay,” Gonzalez recounted for the jury. “I heard her say ‘Please don’t shoot me.’ My daughter was shot at close range like she was worth nothing, close enough to almost blow her face completely off. To think of how scared she was to see a man with his face painted black must have been extremely scary for her.”

Gonzalez told the jury that her daughter was very brave considering the threat to her safety. “She never looked away from the defendant. She looked him right in the eye and begged him not to shoot her,” she said. “The defendant told her that no one would hurt her and that everything would be okay. He lied.”

Gonzalez told the jury about the sorrow she experienced when she had to bury her husband and daughter. “It saddened me to know that her face had to be reconstructed for her funeral. It was hard to see my child in the casket. It was hard to see my husband in the casket,” she said. “It was overwhelming and it still is.”

Why did this happen?

Gonzalez then asked a rhetorical question. “What could a 9-year-old possibly done to deserve getting shot like that? I don’t understand how someone could have that much hate in her heart,” she said.

Gonzalez then shared some memories with the jury. “Brisenia loved the color yellow, loved to draw and her favorite Disney princess was Belle,” she said. “Most of all, she loved changing clothes. She had a morning, afternoon and evening outfit. As you can imagine, laundry was not fun for me.”

Gonzalez said her husband was kind, gentle and he best friend. “Junior and I had been together since he was 15-years-old. We were two-and-a-half months short of being married 13 years,” she said. “We had built our lives together and were looking forward to growing old. He had a great sense of humor, was a great cook and loved his little girls very much.”

Gonzalez said her other daughter still struggles with the reality of the situation. “Alexandra expresses quite often that she misses her father and she has not reached the point to where she is able to talk about her little sister,” she told the jury.

Gonzalez concluded by stating that she has questions that probably will never be answered. “It’s hard for me to understand how this all happened. I have so many questions that will remain unanswered. I just want to know why,” she said.

She pointedly addressed Bush as he sat at the defense table without emotion. “You chose to exchange my husband and daughter’s lives for a souvenir that you bragged about, almost like you had won a medal for what you had done to my family,” she said. “I miss my husband. I miss my daughter. I miss my family. I miss my life. That’s all because of a choice that he made for me.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Bush trial will begin the penalty phase on Thursday


Jason Bush with defense counsel Richard Parrish
and Chris Kimminau. 

Convicted double murder Jason Eugene Bush, 36, will soon find out if he was face life in prison or death by lethal injection after he was convicted by a Pima County Superior Court jury of four men and eight women last Friday.

The jury returned guilty verdicts on 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. The jury further found that the murders were premeditated and were also committed while Bush was engaged in other felony activities, including 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.

Eligible for death penalty

Then on Friday afternoon it took the jury 15-minutes to find that:
  • The defendant has been convicted of another offense in the United States for which under Arizona law a sentence of life imprisonment or death was imposable.
  • The defendant has been or was previously convicted of a serious offense, whether preparatory or completed. Convictions for serious offenses committed on the same occasion as the homicide, or not committed on the same occasion but consolidated for trial with the homicide, shall be treated as a serious offense under this paragraph.
  • The defendant was an adult at the time the offense was committed or was tried as an adult and the murdered person was under 15 years of age, was an unborn child in the womb at any stage of its development or was 70 years of age or older.

As with the first phase of the trial, the defense presented no evidence or argument during the second phase of the trial.

Penalty phase
During the penalty phase that is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday before Judge John S. Leonardo the defense will present evidence from two doctors who have evaluated Bush.

Dr. Marc Walter, a neuropsychologist from Phoenix, is expected to testify that the defendant meets the criteria for paranoid schizophrenia.

The second doctor is Dr. B. Robert Crago, clinical director of Neurobehavioral Health Services in Tucson, who performed a quantitative EEG, which is a scientifically established method for evaluating brain function based on brain electrical activity mapping. Crago is expected to testify that his evaluation of Bush produced results that are consistent with schizophrenia and traumatic brain injury.

Defense counsel Richard Parrish provided a preview of the other mitigation evidence anticipated in the third phase while arguing a motion designed to prevent the prosecution from presenting evidence of prior alleged bad acts. “We have not subpoenaed personal witnesses from Idaho, but his natural father and natural mother have guaranteed us that they will come,” he said. “There are other individuals who have known him through his early years that have told us they will come.”

No fallen angel

Parrish said that evidence anticipated during the penalty phase should have no bearing on the guilt or innocence of Bush. “The entire thrust of this has nothing to do with the innocence of this man. It has to do with mental problems that began very early in his life,” he explained. “His father and mother basically disowned him, terminated their parenting of him at the age of 11. His father committed him to a mental institution.”

Parrish also mentioned they may talk about law enforcement contacts his client has had over the years. “We have records of a long series of contacts with law enforcement,” he said. “There are 1,562 pages of documentation about this.”

Parrish also revealed that Bush had invented a fictional life for him self. “There is an entire carton of framed certificates, testimonials from the department of defense, the president of the United States, special forces, photographs of Mr. Bush in a Marine uniform with weapons, jumping out of an airplane an doing various things,” he said. “It is all in the imagination of Mr. Bush. He was never in the service. He created an identity, which he backed up with some astonishingly real looking certificates. There are about 25 of them.”

Parrish made it clear that they were not going to paint their client as an angel. “We are certainly not going to maintain to the court or this jury that peacefulness is the nature of this man,” he said. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Forde on Death Row

In case you haven't checked it out, here's a link to Shawna Forde's Death Row page at the Arizona Department of Corrections.

A portion of Forde's Death Row page.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bush found to be eligible for the death penalty


A Pima County Superior Court jury has determined that convicted double murderer Jason Eugene Bush is now eligible to be sentenced to death. The penalty phase of the proceedings will begin on Thursday, March 31, before Judge John S. Leonardo.

Raul and Brisenia Flores
Bush, 36, was also found guilty of the attempted first-degree murder of Gina Marie Gonzalez; as well as of 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.

Deputy County Attorney Kellie Johnson urged the jury to determine if the aggravating factors alleged by the prosecution were present during the commission of the murders of Raul and Brisenia Flores. “Not all first-degree murders, standing alone, are something that make someone eligible for the death penalty,” she said. “It’s these aggravating factors that make someone eligible.”
It took the jury 15-minutes to find that:  
  1. The defendant has been convicted of another offense in the United States for which under Arizona law a sentence of life imprisonment or death was imposable.
  2. The defendant has been or was previously convicted of a serious offense, whether preparatory or completed. Convictions for serious offenses committed on the same occasion as the homicide, or not committed on the same occasion but consolidated for trial with the homicide, shall be treated as a serious offense under this paragraph.
  3. The defendant was an adult at the time the offense was committed or was tried as an adult and the murdered person was under 15 years of age, was an unborn child in the womb at any stage of its development or was 70 years of age or older.

As with the first phase of the trial, the defense presented no evidence or argument during the second phase of the trial.

Bush jury finds Bush guilty of all charges


Jason Bush
Pool photo by Dean Knuth,
Arizona Daily Star

A Pima County Superior Court jury of four men and eight women has found Jason Eugene Bush guilty on 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.

Bush, 36, was also found guilty of the attempted first-degree murder of Gina Marie Gonzalez; as well as of 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 jury deliberated for two-and-a-half hours on Thursday without reaching a verdict and for a little over an hour on Friday before returning the guilty verdicts on the charges listed above. Most observers predicted the jury would deliberate for a short period of time before returning their guilty verdicts. The length of the deliberations caught many off guard since the defense had conceded his guilt and asked virtually no questions of witnesses.

Bush displayed no emotion, initially, staring straight ahead. Later, he sat at the defense table with his eyes closed.

The aggravation phase of the trial will begin at 1 p.m. today. If the jury finds the aggravators are proven then Bush will be eligible for the death penalty. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bush jury has gone for the night

The Pima County Superior Court jury hearing the double murder trial of Jason Eugene Bush has retired for the evening after deliberating for approximately two-and-a-half hours. 

The got the case shortly before lunch and began deliberations at 1:30 p.m. They left for the day shortly after 4 p.m. They are scheduled to return to resume deliberations at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

There was one jury question posed during deliberations today regarding the accomplice instruction applying to the six charges Bush faces besides the two counts of first-degree murder. 

Bush case goes to the jury shortly before lunch


The fate of accused double murderer Jason Eugene Bush is in the hands of a Pima County Superior Court jury.

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.

Closing arguments

Deputy County Attorney Rick Unklesbay presented the jury of five males and 10 females with closing arguments this morning. The defense, which rested yesterday without calling any witnesses, waived its closing argument in this phase of the trial. “The defendant’s guilt is really beyond any doubt based on the evidence that you’ve heard,” he said. “In the early morning hours of May 30th, he along with Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola made their way into the Flores household and once inside the defendant used his gun to slaughter two people.”

Ultimately, the state is seeking the death penalty for Bush, but that determination needs to be made in phases after the jury has heard all of the relevant evidence in the case. “This is not a time that the jury reflects or decides or deliberates on any potential penalty,” Unklesbay said. “This is the time when you decide whether or not the state has proven to you beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant killed Raul and Brisenia, tried to kill Gina, was engaged with the others in armed robbery and aggravated robbery as well. This is not a time that you deliberate to decide what should happen to Mr. Bush. This is a time that you decide that the evidence supports the legal instructions that the court is going to give you.”

Should the jury find Bush guilty of the murders of Flores and his daughter the trial would move to the phase where the defendant could become eligible to receive the death penalty. “If and only if you find Mr. Bush guilty then we will proceed on to phase two which is the jury’s determination as to whether or not Mr. Bush is eligible for the death penalty,” Unklesbay counseled the jury.

Confession

Yesterday, the jury was told by lead case Det. Juan Carlos Navarro that Bush had initially claimed that he had not participated in the murders. Bush then changed his story and told Navarro that he committed the murders with motivation from co-defendants Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola who wee pointing weapons at him giving him a choice, their lives or his life. “One thing you are not going to get is an instruction that tells you that there is some justification if a person claims that he was forced to commit murder by the acts of someone else,” Unklesbay said. “In other words, even though he first denied to Det. Navarro having anything to do with the murders, denied that he was armed with a weapon when he eventually admitted shooting Brisenia, Raul and Gina he added the additional element that he only did it because Shawna and Albert were going to shoot him. You’re not going to receive any sort of instruction because it isn’t the law. If someone claims that they were forced to commit murder by someone else because of a threat on their own life and that’s somehow justified it’s not the law.”

Unklesbay argued to the jury that Bush was engaging in damage control when he told Navarro he reluctantly committed the murders. “I suggest that Mr. Bush, when he was talking to Det. Navarro, was simply trying to mitigate his own involvement, make it seem to be somewhat less than what it really was,” he said. “The evidence before you was that Mr. Bush was not only a willing participant in this home invasion and these murders but that he was eager to do so and relished it.”

Brisenia

The jury was also told yesterday by Medical Examiner David Winston that one of the two gunshot wounds to the head suffered by Brisenia had been a contact wound where the muzzle of the gun makes contact with the victim’s skin at the time the trigger is pulled. In his statement to Navarro Bush claimed he was no closer than three feet and closed his eyes before pulling the trigger. “What he did was horrific,” Unklesbay argued. “He wasn’t three feet away from Brisenia when he put that gun to her head. What this man did was take a powerful, .45 cal., semiautomatic handgun and put it to the head of a 9-year-old and pull the trigger, not only once but he did it twice. What he did was horrific and we are asking you to hold him responsible for those murders.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stonex testifies about his first meeting with Bush


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.

Minutemen

Chuck Stonex
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.

Gunny

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.”

Medic
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.

War paint

Jason Bush
Pool photo by
Dean Knuth,
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.”
A souvenir
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.

Love interest

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.

Letter to the editor from Laine Lawless



Laine Lawless
It's true that Chuck and I have exchanged some harsh words. I have not lied about him at all, but he has lied repeatedly, resorting to ad hominem attacks about my appearance when he can't get anything to stick. You want to know what our trip to Arivaca was really like? Go here:  http://blondeontheborder.com 

It is always interesting when certain people accuse others of doing things they themselves have done! Remember, I was with Chuck that night. I know what happened. Could my account differ from his? Read the book and find out.

As far as the quote: "Two can keep a secret if one is dead." That's from Ben Franklin, and it's a joke among patriots. I just thought Chuck had a problem with diarrhea of the mouth when I sent it to him; little did I know that he had purposely leaked stuff about me to a scummy reporter. I thought it was a mistake, but it wasn't.

The witnesses in these cases are extraordinarily scummy and they lie like rugs. I wouldn't believe any of them.

Why would Stonex care that I am "upset?" So what? I have no desire to do anything to him, other than to use the pen, which is mightier than the sword. He's just mad because he can't do anything about my telling the truth. He makes it his life mission to call every show I'm on for the sole purpose of shouting me down, even if I am not talking about him. He needs to get a life and move on!

I never was subpoenaed for Gaxiola's trial. Stonex has no way of knowing who  was served or for what. Another instance of shooting off his mouth without any  real knowledge. Once the trials are all over, no one will want to talk to Chuck  anymore. And that is the horror that he fears--being unimportant.  LL