Shawna Forde, the anti-immigration vigilante found guilty of murder in the home invasion that killed nine-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul, was sentenced to death last night by an Arizona court. Forde, who hoped to fund her Minutemen border patrol organization with money from the robbery, was convicted of murder on Feburary 14, after a horrific trial in which Brisenia’s mother, Gina Gonzalez, testified of watching her young daughter and husband slayed in cold blood. The case, covered spottily by the mainstream media, became a cause for many immigration and Latino activists, who saw the crime and its fall-out as ignored on account of skin color.
From the Arizona Daily Star:
Defense attorney Jill Thorpe asked jurors to spare Ford’s life, saying she was a “broken person” who suffered repeated acts of sexual and physical abuse and abandonment as a child.
The abuse and a subsequent stroke resulted in brain damage that left Forde vulnerable to manipulation, Thorpe said. She was unable to assess people or change course, she said.
Forde’s childhood also caused her to develop a narcissistic personality that led her to make outlandish claims and an inability to accept responsibility for her involvement in the Floreses’ deaths, Thorpe said.
But the prosecution argued, “While Forde was probably abused to some degree, it’s not enough to warrant leniency.” (For more on Forde’s troubled past, read here.) Defense attorney Jill Thorpe “urged the jury to compare Forde’s moral culpability with that of the gunman, whom authorities have identified as Jason Bush, 36.” After four hours of deliberation, Forde was given the death penalty. Bush, the gunman in the case, is scheduled to go on trial March 15.
More on the Brisenia Flores murder trial and its coverage in the national media: