[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
While cable channels like Fox have been paying attention 24/7 to the largely meaningless Casey Anthony murder case, we've instead been following the trials in the case of Shawna Forde and her killer Minutemen, which has considerably more social significance -- and thus has, of course, been largely ignored in the media. Indeed, the clip above was the only video I could find of the final verdict, which came down Friday:
An Arivaca man was convicted today of being behind a May 2009 home invasion that resulted in the death of a former friend and the friend's 9-year-old daughter.Dave Ricker has much more at his blog:
It took a Pima County jury five hours to convict Albert Gaxiola, 44, of first-degree murder in the deaths of Raul Junior Flores, 29, and Brisenia Flores. He was also convicted this afternoon of attempting to murder Flores' wife, Gina Gonzalez, and one count each of burglary, armed robbery and aggravated robbery; and two counts of aggravated assault.
Jurors must now decide if the circumstances of the case warrant consideration of the death penalty. If they say "Yes," defense attorneys will present mitigation evidence over the next several days.
Now that the jury has found Gaxiola guilty of the two counts of first-degree murder the trial will move to the aggravation phase starting on Wednesday, July 6. If the jury finds one of the alleged aggravators, multiple murders and a victim under the age of 15, to have been proven then the trial will move to the penalty phase where the burden lies with the defense to persuade the jury to grant the defendant leniency.We'll keep you posted on the final sentence for Gaxiola -- which will wrap up this case, barring appeals, for good.
During closing arguments in the trial, Thursday, the jury was reminded of a text message sent on May 30, 2009, by the defendant just hours after the a deadly home invasion in Arivaca.
That message sent by Gaxiola read “Sweet dreams.” Deputy County Attorney Rick Unklesbay paused for a moment. “They had just killed a 9-year-old. They had just killed her father. They had just wounded Gina,” he said. “And, Albert Gaxiola’s text message back to Shawna Forde was ‘Sweet dreams.’ Shawna Forde’s reply was: ‘You’re one of my minutemen.’”
Unklesbay found himself searching for words. “I’m not sure what words can adequately characterize the actions of these people,” he said. “This is beyond outrageous. This is just downright scary.”
During those same closing arguments defense counsel Jack L. Lansdale suggested to the jury that his client was incapable of harming Brisenia or her sister. He asked the jury to recall testimony by the medical examiner complete with detailed pictures of the injuries suffered by Brisenia and her father. “Did anyone of you hearing the testimony during the presentation of the photographs of Brisenia Flores happen to notice Albert and his reaction?” he asked, rhetorically. “For him to participate in any action to hurt those children is incomprehensible.”