State's closing arguments paint Forde as mastermind

2011-02-11T00:00:00Z State's closing arguments paint Forde as mastermindKim Smith Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 11, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Shawna Forde thought so highly of herself she believed she could create a new world, decide who was a drug dealer and who wasn't and who should live and die, prosecutor Rick Unklesbay told jurors Thursday.

The truth, however, he said, is, "What Shawna Forde is is a common thief and a murderer."

Unklesbay spent approximately 90 minutes Thursday going over the evidence he says proves Forde, 43, was the mastermind behind a May 30, 2009, Arivaca home invasion that left Raul Junior Flores, 29, and his 9-year-old-daughter, Brisenia, dead of multiple gunshot wounds.

Two other suspects in the case, Jason Bush and Albert Gaxiola, are scheduled to go to trial this spring.

The prosecutor reminded jurors that at least four witnesses testified Forde bragged about her plan to fund her Minutemen American Defense organization by robbing drug-cartel associates during home invasions.

Among those witnesses were her sister, two FBI informants and Oin Oakstar, an Arivaca drug smuggler.

Flores and Brisenia died because of Forde's greed, Unklesbay said.

Forde may not have pulled the trigger, "But make no mistake about it, she's the one who planned the event, recruited the people to do it and she went in there with them," Unklesbay said.

It's been suggested Forde is nothing but a braggart filled with hot air, Unklesbay said. But she told an FBI informant people are always underestimating her.

The prosecutor urged jurors to listen to two taped conversations between Forde and the informant, Ron Wedow.

Just days after the brutal slayings, Unklesbay said Forde talked about being the only one in the Minutemen movement willing to "take it to the next level," and she invites Wedow to join in, saying, "Welcome to the jungle, baby."

She tells Wedow they've already done some operations and says with "glee and sheer joy" that they have more targets, Unklesbay said.

Unklesbay also urged the jurors to ignore the defense's take on the testimony of Flores' wife, Gina Gonzalez.

"My God! Her 9-year-old daughter was slaughtered in front of her. I'm sure she wanted to say" it was definitely Forde, but she said only that Forde resembled the woman, Unklesbay said.

Defense attorney Eric Larsen told jurors they can't convict Forde unless they accept that every theory presented by the state is the only reasonable theory.

Wedow called Forde with the sole purpose of getting Forde to confess to the slayings on tape, but instead she told him home invasions weren't "up her alley," Larsen said.

The defense attorney told jurors to ask themselves if it's possible Gaxiola's girlfriend, Gina Moraga, was the woman home invader.

Larsen argued Moraga would fit Gonzalez's description of the woman if she donned a tactical vest and her feet would also fit in bloody hiking boots found at Gaxiola's house, Larsen said.

Moreover, Oakstar testified he and Gaxiola planned to kill Flores before he could kill them for stealing marijuana from him, Larsen said. Moraga helped them.

"Who's got motive to go in and make themselves safe? Albert Gaxiola, Oin Oakstar and Gina Moraga," Larsen said.

Larsen also reminded jurors about a text he believes was sent and signed by Moraga after the slayings. It said "Have next target intel Will need 4 man team details when we meet Gina."

"Tell me Gina Moraga is not a viable suspect," Larsen said. "She's putting together another team. She's putting together another hit."

In addition to two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder, Forde is facing burglary, aggravated-assault and robbery charges.

If convicted, Forde could face the death penalty.

The jurors will begin deliberations at 10 a.m. today.

On StarNet: Follow the news and events at Pima County's courthouses in Kim Smith's blog, "At the Courthouse," at go.azstarnet.com/courthouse

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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