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Arizona vigilante found guilty of murdering Latino man, daughter

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Arizona vigilante convicted of murder
  • Anti-illegal immigration vigilante Shawna Forde is convicted of murder
  • Forde is found guilty of killing a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter
  • Forde's two accomplices are to be tried later this year
  • Shawna Forde
  • Pima County
  • Arizona

(CNN) -- An Arizona jury on Monday convicted anti-illegal immigration activist Shawna Forde of murder in the killing of a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter during a 2009 vigilante raid she led on their home.

The Pima County jury convicted Forde on eight counts, including two counts of murder for the shooting deaths of Raul Flores and his daughter, Brisenia, and the attempted murder of the child's mother, Gina Gonzales, at the family's rural Arivaca home on May 30, 2009.

The child and her father were American-born U.S. citizens.

The jury also convicted Forde on two counts of aggravated assault, and one count each of burglary, armed robbery and aggravated robbery.

The jury is scheduled to return Tuesday for the penalty phase of the trial.

Forde's alleged accomplices, Albert Robert Gaxiola and Jason Eugene Bush, are scheduled to go on trial later this year.

During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Forde as the ringleader of the hit squad, and said she had planned the raid and the murders to steal weapons, money and drugs to finance a new anti-illegal immigration outfit.

The trio picked the Flores home, prosecutors said, because of a claim made by Gaxiola they would find drugs there.

While Flores had a history of drug-related offenses, none were found in the house.

Posing as border patrol and law enforcement officers, Forde, Gaxiola and Bush, whom prosecutors identified as the gunman, showed up at the Flores home after midnight, several hours after the family had returned from a shopping trip in Tucson to buy shoes for their daughter for summer camp.

Brisenia Flores was sleeping on the couch with her puppy when the killers demanded to be let into the home. They accused Flores of harboring illegal aliens and said the house was surrounded by agents.

Once inside, the gunman shot Flores in the chest and Gonzales in the leg. Later Brisenia was shot as she pleaded for her life.

Jewelry taken from the Flores home was later found in Forde's possession. Text messages discovered on her phone also implicated her in the crime.

Forde once belonged to the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps before she was removed for what former fellow members described as unstable behavior, according to news reports.

Forde then formed a splinter group, Minutemen American Defense. She led protests against illegal immigration and patrolled the Arizona-Mexico border armed with weapons.

Bush was the group's national director of operations, according to reports.