At the Courthouse: Gina Gonzalez takes stand in Forde case

2011-01-05T14:46:00Z 2011-01-05T15:19:51Z At the Courthouse: Gina Gonzalez takes stand in Forde caseBy Kim Smith Arizona Daily Star
January 05, 2011 2:46 pm  • 

On May 30, 2009, Gina Gonzalez lost her husband and 9-year-old daughter when a group of people came into her home and a tall man shot them to death.

Gonzalez was also shot, but survived.

On Tuesday, Gonzalez testified for the first time about the events of that night, albeit in an abbreviated way.

Gonzalez was called to the stand to testify because although she was unable to pick suspect Shawna Forde out of a photo lineup the morning of the shootings, she kind of, sort of identified Forde as the woman who accompanied the tall man after seeing Forde Sept. 27 -- the only time Forde has appeared in court.

Defense attorney Eric Larsen thinks Gonzalez identified Forde because she's seen her on TV, on the Internet and in the newspaper -- not because she saw her in court and recognized her.

Larsen points out that Forde was a platinum blonde when she was arrested and Gonzalez described the woman home invader as having brownish blonde hair.

As a result, Larsen doesn't want Gonzalez to be able to tell jurors she recognizes Forde as one of the home invaders.

Gonzalez testified Tuesday she recognized Forde for several reasons. It was the first time she'd seen her in person since the incident, she wasn't wearing makeup (the women in the photo lineup were wearing makeup), she had the same smile and her hair was styled the same way.

As for the smile, Gonzalez said that after the shootings, the home invaders ransacked her house and then left. However, when she was on the phone with 911, she looked up and saw the woman standing on the threshold, smiling.

"She saw me standing there and her face dropped and she said 'Oh, (expletive)," Gonzalez said.

The woman went back outside and a few seconds later Gonzalez said she and the tall man exchanged shots. (Prosecutors think the tall guy was Jason Bush.) 

Gonzalez never came out and said "Shawna Forde was the woman home invader."

She did say: "I can say she looked exactly like the person who was in the house that day" and "I can't say Shawna Forde was there because I don't know Shawna Forde."

Judge John Leonardo will decide what Gonzalez will be allowed to say in the coming days.

 

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