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Crime

Slain Girl Pleaded for Her Life, Mom Testifies at Militia Leader's Trial

Jan 26, 2011 – 3:10 PM
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A bereaved Arizona mother testified that she heard her 9-year-old daughter beg, "Please don't shoot me," moments before the child was gunned down in their home.

Anti-immigration militia leader Shawna Forde is on trial in Pima County Superior Court in Tucson on two counts of first-degree murder in the home invasion deaths of Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul "Junior" Flores. If convicted, Forde, 43, could face the death penalty.

Defendant Shawna Forde  listens during opening arguments in her murder trial in Pima County Superior Court in Tucson, Ariz., on Tuesday Jan. 25, 2011.
Greg Bryan, Pool / AP
Shawna Forde is being tried on two counts of first-degree murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.
The trial got under way Tuesday but has been overshadowed by the grief and outrage surrounding the Jan. 8 shooting rampage that left six people dead and 13 wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Prosecutors say Forde organized the May 30, 2009, raid on the home in Arivaca because she believed Flores, 29, was involved in drug trafficking and wanted to seize cash or drugs to help fund her border-protection group, the Minutemen American Defense. Two other defendants, Jason Bush and Albert Gaxiola, are due to be tried later.

Brisenia's mother, Gina Gonzalez, testified Tuesday that people posing as law enforcement officers came into the family's home in the early morning hours and then pumped several bullets into her husband, killing him. Gonzalez was hit in the shoulder and leg and slumped to the floor.

She said she was lying wounded on the floor, pretending to be dead, when her young daughter -- who had been asleep -- confronted one of the attackers, identified by authorities as Bush.

"Why did you shoot my dad? Why did you shoot my mom?" Brisenia asked, her mother testified, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"He's all out of bullets by then because he's used them on me and Junior. So he loads the gun right in front of her," Gonzalez said, according to KOLD-TV, the CBS affiliate in Tucson.

"I can hear it happening. I can hear her telling him to 'please don't shoot me,'" the sobbing mother said.

Despite Brisenia's plea, the gunman shot the little girl twice, Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said more men entered the house and ransacked the residence, then left. Gonzalez said she crawled to her kitchen and grabbed her husband's gun, then called 911.

"Somebody just came in and shot my husband and daughter," Gonzalez told a dispatcher on the 911 call, placed shortly after 1 a.m. May 30, the Arizona Daily Star said.

"They shot my husband and they shot my daughter and they shot me. Oh my God, I can't believe this is happening."

While she was talking to the dispatcher, the attackers returned and Gonzalez exchanged gunfire with them, apparently hitting one, according to testimony. The attackers left.

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In opening statements, defense attorney Eric Larsen said his client was not at the home on the night of the attack.

"Essentially this case is a doughnut -- a lot of circumstantial evidence all around, but there is a hole and that hole is Shawna Forde not being in that home on May 30th," he said, according to KOLD.

Prosecutor Kellie Johnson said: "Not only will the state prove to you that Shawna Forde was in that house that night, barking orders and telling people what to do, the state will prove that Shawna Forde organized and planned this offense, with other folks."

The trial is expected to last at least four weeks.
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