Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Trial Begins in Case of Minutemen Accused of Killing 9-year-old and her Father

Opening arguments began this week in the trial of Shawna Forde, the alleged masterminded behind the May 2009 murders of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father Raul Flores in Pima County, Arizona.  Originally a member of the anti-immigrant Minutemen Project, investigators say Forde broke away from the group to form her own extreme faction.

Gina Gonzalez, Brisenia’s mother, says her daughter was shot point blank in the head as she pleaded with her assailant for her life and testified about the night of the murders by the group of self-proclaimed border vigilantes.

Forde targeted the Flores family to rob them in order to fund her group the Minutemen American Defense, which claims it is their civil duty to take up arms and patrol the Mexican border.

On the night of May 30, 2009, prosecutors say Forde and her two accomplices entered the Flores home falsely claiming to be law enforcement officials and opened fire on the family.  Gonzalez lay wounded and pretended to be dead when she says she heard her daughter plead for her life.

“I can hear it happening,” Gonzalez told the court. “I can hear her telling him to ‘please don’t shoot me.”‘

But the shooter opened fire on Brisenia at point blank range killing her instantly.  When police caught up with Forde they found Mrs. Gonzalez’s wedding ring and other jewelry on her.  Forde has pleaded not guilty and is facing the death penalty if convicted.

The larger Minuteman Project has attempted to distance itself from Forde and the group’s leader, Jim Gilchrest, has said his relationship with the accused killer was never “extensive.” However, in 2009 a reporter from Forde’s hometown in Washington state revealed an alleged email that showed Gilchrist and Forde were indeed close acquaintances through their work  and often praised each other as ”dedicated soldiers in the war against illegal immigration.”

After the recent shooting of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Forde’s attorneys questioned if their client would actually receive a fair trial since her detractors accuse her of being driven by right-wing passions.  The trial was not delayed and is expected to last several weeks if not months.

LA Times

Daily Mail

CBS News