Witness in disguise
Testimony in the Arivaca murder trial came to a halt Thursday after a supporter of defendant Shawna Forde who is a likely witness in the case was spotted in the courtroom wearing a disguise. Laine Lawless was escorted from the proceedings and has been told to stay out of the Pima County Superior Court building as well.

Former Minutemen American Defense group member Chuck Stonex told jurors Thursday he clearly remembers one of the comments Shawna Forde made to him as he tended to Jason Bush's gunshot wound the evening of May 30, 2009.

"She told me, 'You should have seen how scary he looked last night with his face all blacked out,' " Stonex said, referring to Bush.

Stonex was called to the stand by prosecutors who are trying Forde on first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Arivaca residents Raul Junior Flores, 29, and his daughter Brisenia, 9.

Flores' wife, Gina Gonzalez, testified earlier this week she, her husband and their youngest daughter were shot by a tall white man who was wearing black face paint and camouflage. The gunman returned moments later, upon realizing Gonzalez was still alive, and got into a gunfight with her.

Blood found at the scene and in a teal van have been linked to Bush, leading prosecutors to believe Gonzalez shot him in the leg.

Stonex told jurors he first met Forde in October 2008 after a friend invited him to observe and report suspected illegal immigrants near Three Points. He and Forde kept in touch via e-mails and telephone calls in the months afterward.

On May 30, 2009, Stonex expected to see Forde at a Minutemen barbecue in Hereford, but instead received a phone call at 8 a.m. telling him that one of her guys, "Gunny," had been shot by border jumpers and needed medical aid. After being provided a number of reasons why they couldn't go to the hospital, Stonex said he agreed to bring supplies to them in Arivaca.

Stonex went to Arivaca with Laine Lawless, a woman he knew hoped to interview Forde about her organization. They met Forde in Arivaca and followed her to a small house a few blocks away, Stonex said. She was driving a teal van.

"Gunny" introduced himself as Jason Bush, Stonex said.

As he washed Bush's leg with saline and peroxide, Stonex said Bush and Forde told him they were "jumped by border bandits" while in a wash near Douglas. The bandits fired shots and flash grenades at them and Bush said he was caught by a ricochet. The wound wasn't serious, Stonex said.

Lawless spotted an ammunition clip and a military flashlight that had been damaged and Bush said the items caught bullets intended for him, Stonex said.

It was then that Forde made the comment about the face painting, Stonex said.

He, Bush and Forde met in Tucson June 1 to discuss future border operations, Stonex said.

Bush showed him a .40-caliber bullet from the night he'd been shot, calling it a souvenir, Stonex said.

When asked by prosecutor Rick Unklesbay who he thought was the leader of the Minutemen American Defense operation the night Bush was shot, Stonex said Forde.

"I was under the impression (Bush) was the number two guy," Stonex testified.

Forde, Bush and Albert Gaxiola are being tried separately in the case. Bush is scheduled to go to trial March 15 and Gaxiola June 1.

Prosecutors have said they believe Forde, 43, recruited a group of men to rob and kill Flores in order to fund her Minutemen American Defense militia group. Defense attorneys have said there's no evidence linking Forde to the home invasion.

The trial, which is expected to last four weeks, resumes this morning in Judge John Leonardo's courtroom.

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