Friday, August 19, 2016

Albert Gaxiola, Oin Oakstar, and an Unidentifed Man

On May 30th, 2009 between 12:30 am and 1:00 am tragedy struck in Arivaca .  The lives of innocent 9 -year old Brisenia Flores and her father were terminated by a group of inhuman thugs lead by a woman who lusted for money.  The thugs also tried twice to kill Brisenia's mother Gina but failed each time.  After an intense investigation,  it was identified that there were at least four people involved in the atrocity that took young Brisenia's life.  Three of them were identified, caught and brought to justice.  The fourth suspect was never identified.

The three suspects were tried separately.  The first to face a jury was the leader Shawna Forde who was believed to be the leader behind the plan.  (for more details about Forde's case see Shawna Forde:  Guilty or Innocent:  Part II). Shawna was the leader of a Minutemen group who offered her services to take out drug dealing competition for one of her cohorts in exchange for money, drugs, and weapons.   She did not pull the trigger during the Arivaca massacre but she brought the man who did.  She was the one giving the orders and instructed the man who had just killed a child to kill the child's mother as well.

If it were not for Forde's greedy robbery plan,  young Brisenia would never had to face the horror of seeing her father killed, the fear of seeing her mother with a bullet hole in her chest, or  the sure terror of knowing she was next.   Raul Flores and an innocent child would not have died that night; Gina would not have had to live with the physical and emotional pain from the attack upon her and her family.  The jury agreed.

The jury listened carefully and studied every piece of evidence introduced in the trial.  They considered that the surviving witness admitted she could not positively ID Forde.  However, they recognized that Gina claimed Forde looked very much like the woman in her house that night.  Gina's statement along with texts from Forde's phone, her connections to the man whose blood was found at the scene, and witness testimony proved to the jury she was present while her director of operations shot and killed two people in cold blood.  It meant Forde was guilty of felony murder.

After weighing the evidence as a whole,  there was not any reasonable doubt towards the charges levied against Forde.  The jury unanimously decided Forde was guilty on all counts, including two counts of felony murder and one count of attempted premeditated murder.   The felony murder criteria was reached because the evidence was enough to strongly convince the jury that Forde was an active participant in a burglary where two people lost their lives due to the actions of those involved.

The crime fit the requirements for the death penalty on multiple levels.  Mitigating factors were offered but the jury did not feel they were enough.   Shawna tried to claim that she was only a small participant in the events that lead to the Flores' deaths.  She added that it was Gaxiola and Oakstar who manipulated her involvement in the murders.  But, it was Shawna's guy who pulled the trigger and Shawna's phone who replied that Gaxiola's "competition" was gone.   The evidence did not support Shawna's claim in her mitigating factors.  And,  through the use of those mitigating factors Shawna inadvertently admitted she was involved.

 The evidence was very clear that Shawna was a cold-hearted killer and the jury sentenced her to death.   Her words following the sentencing reflected on who Shawna was.

"I wish I could say I was sorry it happened.  I am not sorry on my behalf because I didn’t do it. People shouldn’t deal drugs if they have kids."

Jason Bush was the second person to face a jury.   The evidence against him was severe:

  •  his blood was found leading away from the scene
  • his blood was in the vehicle Gina saw staking out her house on the morning before the murders
  • Gina had fired shots at the intruders;  Jason Bush was shot the same night.
  • Gina testified that the tall man with the receding hairline had his face painted black;a witness testified Shawna indicated Jason Bush had his face painted black on the night of the murders and Jason was tall with a receding hairline.  
  • And Jason initially confessed; his confession included details of the murder he should not had known unless he was involved.
It was obvious he was there and the one who pulled the trigger.   (See Jason Bush for more details on his case).Jason's lawyers recognized that  any attempt at a claim of innocence would be futile;  the evidence was damning and nothing was going to change it.  They were concerned arguing innocence in the face of such evidence could prejudice the jury when it came to the sentencing and made the decision to concentrate on sparing his life.   Their efforts fell short and like Shawna,  Jason Bush was sentenced to death for his involvement in the murders.

The last of the identified intruders was Albert Gaxiola who entered the Flores' home with the unidentified man when Shawna Forde gave the all clear signal.  Gaxiola made the later mistake of sticking his head back into the home after it was discovered Gina Gonzales was still alive.   Gina, although confused and in pain,  thought she recognized him.   When Albert saw her,  he exclaimed, "Oh Shit!" and ran away.

"I looked at him and I double took him and a million things went through my mind. .......  I told them (the investigator) I said to myself,  was that Albert?"  Gina Gonzales, testimony, Gaxiola trial.

Albert went to trial and proclaimed his innocence.   He insisted he was not there.  When he was first questioned by police,  he told them he was in Tucson at the time the Flores' were killed.  The jury did not believe Albert's claim of innocence.  He was convicted for two counts of felony murder but, unlike his companions, he was spared from a death sentence.  Gaxiola was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.


The Family Business

Albert Gaxiola was not native to Arivaca.  He became familiar with the area during his teens when his family moved him there.   Gaxiola's mother and grandfather were in the drug smuggling business and introduced Albert to it.   A lot of money could be gained from smuggling the drugs carried into Arivaca from Mexico.  Gaxiola's family would smuggle the drugs from Arivaca to Tucson.  Albert joined the family business and soon became a very active participant.

At the age of 24,  Gaxiola's illegal activities finally caught up with him.  He  was caught smuggling a large amount of marijuana.  He ultimately was convicted of a class II felony and sentenced to serve 10 years in prison.  Although his jail term was filled with disciplinary actions and drug charges, Gaxiola was released early in 1999.

His disciplinary record from the prison showed that Albert remained associated with drugs while there.  He also had a difficult time following commands.   After his release,  Gaxiola returned to the area where he was participating in the drug trade.  His record remained clean except for traffic related violations.  On April 5th, 2000, he was charged with multiple violations including a DUI:
  3. DUI W/ BAC OF .08 OR MORE
The charges for the DUI and the financial responsibility were dismissed by the county attorney's office.  Gaxiola plead guilty on the speeding charges.  He was charged again  in 2007 for driving a vehicle with illegal plates
His case went to court on 8/11/2008 just months before he participated in the Arivaca murders.   Gaxiola pleaded guilty to the charges but remained a free man as they were only minor violations.   He was successful in keeping his activities in the drug trade hidden.


Gaxiola met the Flores family sometime around 2002. Gina Gonzales' godmother was related to Gaxiola.   They soon became family friends and her children loved "Uncle Al."  It made his participation in the murders so much more callous.

He would come out, hang out, and have dinner there (her house).  Drink beers with Junior.  We went out to eat with him, we went to the bar a couple of times with him.  he knew my daughters, they loved him.  My Godmother is his cousin, I think that is how it goes.....  Gina Gonzales testimony, Gaxiola trial

Gaxiola presented himself as a nice guy and it was why Gina's children loved him.  It was hard for others in the community to believe Gaxiola could have been involved in murdering one of them. .  After his arrest, one community member said, 

 "“It’s kind of a slap in the face. Nobody would expect that. He was a real nice guy. He loved kids.”  - source, Mexico Trucker

Others that knew him, his friends and neighbors, said Albert was "“one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet,”

It hardly seemed that he could have been the man who provided the information to Forde that lead to the home invasion and the death of a 9-year old child.  Yet, the evidence in Gaxiola's case proved otherwise.   It's easy for some to hide the darkness that lies inside and it is why guilt or innocent must be decided though using the evidence linked to the case and by those who do not know the defendant. A seemingly nice uncle could be the real monster under the bed.


Gaxiola avoided further drug arrests after his release from jail,  but it did not mean he stayed away from a life of crime.  According to Oin Oakstar's testimony,   he had partnered with Gaxiola to start smuggling marijuana coming into Arivaca to Tucson at the rate of $12.50 a pound.   They decided that they wanted to expand their business and eliminate the competition in the Arivaca area. Murdering a rival drug dealer was allowable by the "Arivaca rules";  it was  an accepted part of doing business in the area.   However,  harming the wife or children of the drug dealers was not allowed.  The rules were broken on May 30th, 2009 when Brisenia was killed and her mother shot.  Those who were present when the assault occurred where not accustomed to the Arivaca rules but it was Albert Gaxiola who brought them in to take Raul out.

Oin claimed that their first intention was not to kill Raul.  They were going to hit his business so bad it would have had a major impact on his ability to provide  product.  Sometime in 2008,  Oin and Albert stole 400 lbs of marijuana from Raul's supply.  Oin alleged that Raul found out and that was when the rift between Gaxiola and Raul began.  His testimony was somewhat corroborated by Gina Gonzales' statement.  She never admitted her husband was a drug dealer but she did admit the problems between Raul and Albert started over drugs.  According to Gina's version, the friendship ended because Albert had been storing marijuana on Flores' property.

Oin further claimed that after Raul learned they were the ones to take his drugs,  they became concerned he would retaliate by killing him.  They decided they would have to take him out first but delayed putting any plan into action.  Instead,  they only talked about it for months.  It was not until Shawna Forde came into the picture that a plan to eliminate Raul was actualized.  Gaxiola contacted Shawna Forde and sought her help to eliminate Raul with a promise she would gain drugs, guns, and about 3 million dollars in cash.  Shawna would not have to follow the Arivaca rules.


Forde and Gaxiola met around October of 2008.   Soon after their meeting, Shawna sent an email to multiple leaders in the Minutemen movement.  In the email, she boasted about making a connection to someone in the drug cartel.   The email corroborated Oin's claim that Gaxiola was a drug dealer. Parts of the email were shared by an investigative journalist who followed the Arivaca case.

"I met my contact in a Catina in Arivaca he had received a call I was in the area with a couple of others so he came to check me out, When this happened I order my guys around in front of him so he recognized that I was a leader “ it’s a respect thing” anyway I knew in my gut he was important but when we made eye contact it was confirmed he had eyes of a killer.
I ordered my guys to leave me there so I could work it out. I wanted a knife so went to car with them and had them give me a knife which was a sorry excuse for one but I took it and put it into my bra, armed with a cell phone a lipstick and now a knife I went back in.
Wow as soon as they left it was on I was surrounded by the most dangerous looking group of drug cartel that you see in movies and it was not a flirt session it was “Who are you, why are you in Arivaca? and they were hitting me hard and fast so I could see the leader sitting and watching me from the side to see how I would respond, I turned to one on my left told him to back off my grill and to go sit the fuck down because he was annoying me.
I seen the leader nod and then he started to laugh and came and sat by me next thing I know I’m in a conversation with him and we had the whole side of the bar to ourselves they all went elsewhere just from a nod. He was testing me so he asked if I wanted to get high I said sure, This is not a place or time to be holier then thou. So we got up went outside in the courtyard and I followed him to the bathroom on our way down my knife fell out of my bra he saw it fall I quickly recovered it and said ohh “my lipstick” I did not think he was paying that close attention.
we get in the bathroom and he takes out his 45 slides it back to cock it and looks me dead in the eye. If I could share with you the feeling in that 8x10 room “chilling” then I looked him straight in the eye and say nice gun. He puts it down on the sink we laugh “nervous laugh”
Stash house Do not share these!!!!!!!!! it would be my life.  -   (Shawna attached pictures which she claimed was the drug dealer's stash house.)

The cantina Shawna had met her new drug dealing friend at was La Gitana Cantina.  It was a local bar located just minutes away from Gaxiola's Arivaca residence.

After meeting Gaxiola at the bar,  Shawna and Albert took a night time walk in the area.  According to Shawna,  they eventually ended up at Gaxiola's "stash house."  In reality, it was likely Gaxiola's Arivaca home.   Shawna claimed that following the walk Gaxiola had presented her with a gift;  it was one of his high-quality switch blades to replace the "sorry excuse" for a knife she had.   At that time, she realized a connection had been made and so did he.  They both planned on using the other to their advantage.

Forde and Gaxiola learned that the other had something to offer,  but each greatly over-exaggerated their worth.  Forde lead Gaxiola to believe she had a large, organized group of military trained men who could efficiently get a job done.   He learned her group was willing to use tactics beyond what the other Minutemen groups would and she planned to start hitting the drug traffickers bringing product into the States from the border.  This could be a problem for his business but also could be beneficial in knocking out the competition.

Gaxiola led Forde to believe he was an important leader in the drug trade and knew who the most profitable dealers were.  In reality,  Forde was the leader of a small group of 15. It was not the elite fighting group of trained military killers she made it out to be;  the killers in her group were a couple of reckless, low-life thugs.  And, Gaxiola was not the important drug connection Shawna thought she had made.  He was only a low-level manager in the area with a few under him.    Despite their inadequacies,  an agreement was formed.  Gaxiola would provide Shawna with targets to hit and assist her on the raids.  In exchange,  Shawna would knock out his competition and keep any guns, money, or drugs recovered from the heist. Additionally, she would look the other way when it came to Gaxiola's drug activities.   It was an ongoing relationship that was meant to continue after the May 30th 12:30 am massacre.

May 30th,  7:02 pm,  Gaxiola:  How are you all hanging? Get your rest and gather strength. Red on med leave. Next target intel will need a 4 man team. Details when we me. Gina.”


Soon after she first met Gaxiola,  Shawna was forced to return to Washington.  She was running out of money and had a divorce to finish.   It interfered with her plans to take down those in the Arivaca drug trade and profit from the action.

Shawna's husband, John Forde,  had filed for divorce a few months prior to Shawna's introduction to Gaxiola.   He had been sending her small sums of money while the divorce was being finalized.  However, the money was never enough and Shawna frequently requested more which John was not willing to give.  It was planned that at the time of their divorce,  the payments would stop and Shawna would be left without any income coming in.  Evidence suggests that Shawna found a way to try to change that.  (See Shawna Forde: Guilty or Innocent Part I for the full story).

Shawna learned she was set to inherit 1/2 million dollars if John died while they were still married. Two months after her return to Washington, an attempt was made on her soon-to-be ex-husband's life. Despite remaining amicable during the divorce, Shawna never visited John once while he was in the hospital;  she also never informed his family that he was in the hospital in the ICU in critical condition.

The man who John would eventually pick out of a photo line-up as his shooter was Shawna's present boyfriend; She moved the boyfriend into John's home the day after John was shot. While John struggled to recover from his wounds Shawna used his debit and credit cards to support herself and the man who John said shot him.  She also forged John's name on a large loan.

The loan and credit card use only kept Shawna afloat for a couple of months.  When the divorce was finalized in February 2009,  she was left without a home, without any income, and around 75,000 in debt.   She was in financial ruin without anyway of maintaining the lifestyle she had become accustomed to.  Shawna needed a way out and was introduced to one soon after.

According to the statement of Oin Oakstar,  after several months of talking about killing Raul,  Gaxiola introduced the idea of using Shawna Forde and her team to make it happen.  Gaxiola contacted Shawna Forde and shared details of "intel" he said he had on local drug dealers for Shawna Forde to hit.   The first was a stash house;  He told her the second was the home of a drug dealer where a family had been placed as a front.  Gaxiola informed Shawna that the home had a large cache of weapons, drugs, and between 2-3 million dollars for the taking.  It was a temptation the avaricious  woman could not resist and she started working on  plan to make it a realization.


Shawna had to create a team who could assist with taking down the targets.  These were drug dealers and she was going to need experienced men at her side.   She reached out to Ron Wedow,  a Minutemen she believed would help her with her plan. According to Ron's testimony,  he received a call from Forde in the early spring of 2009.  She told him she knew of a drug house with a large collection of weapons;  she needed his help to take it down.    Ron was immediately suspicious of her intent.

I thought I was being set up,'   Ron testified.

Due to his concerns,  Wedow contacted a man named Robert Copley who he knew worked as an FBI informant.  After discussing things with Robert,  they met with Shawna Forde and a few other men at a recruitment meeting Shawna had set up.    She explained that she was planning to take down stash houses in the Arivaca area and keep the valuables recovered to fund her Minutemen operations.  A crude map of the Arivaca area was created but later lost by the FBI.  Shawna attempted to claim that the map would have shown it was an Arivaca stash house she had planned to target.  However,  the map would have done little to help her even if it held what she claimed;  the evidence showed she had planned to hit  multiple targets including the Flores' home.

Wedow testified that during the meeting  Shawna turned the discussion to doing home invasions on the drug dealers. She discussed one home in particular that she claimed had weapons and about 2-3 million dollars of drug money stored in it.  A family had been placed in the home but it was only a front.  Shawna stated she was looking for two teams:   one to take care of the family and the other to secure the cash, drugs, and guns.

"She said the family's a front"  Wedow testified

Ron Wedow's testimony supported the charge that Shawna planned on a home invasion at the Flores' home and showed she was aware a family would be involved.  The present of the family and the risks to them was not enough to detour Shawna from her 2-3 million dollar goal.   Wedow's testimony also corroborated Oin's testimony that Gaxiola brought Shawna down to eliminate Raul Flores.  Gaxiola was the link between Shawna and the Flores family.   Had he not contacted her and provided the information,  Forde would not have encroached upon the Flores' home with a murderer carrying a deadly weapon as her number one guy.


After she hosted her recruitment meeting,  Shawna returned to Arivaca,  Arizona.  Oin Oakstar recounted that it was at this time he met Shawna for the first time.   He, Shawna, and Gaxiola met to discuss the plans to knock out the competition.   She assured him she had the perfect guy for the job.

The man Shawna had in mind was Thomas Gibler,  a man who was on the violent offender watch list for Washington.  He had 14 felonies under his belt and her ex-husband had picked his picture out of a line-up as the man who tried to take his life.    He was the kind of man who would not have any problem using lethal force to get a job done.  Her decision to use the man showed she did not care about the risk to the family involved.  But, Shawna's plan hit a snag.   On May 19th,  Gibler was on his way down to Arivaca when he was arrested following a high-speed chase and taken to jail.  The arrest interfered with her plans such as she told Wedow in a recorded June 9th phone call following the murders.

"hang low for now...........   my main guy's in jail." -- Forde June 9th phone call with Wedow.

The arrest of Gibler meant Shawna had to find another man for the job;  this man would have to be one who would not hesitate to pull the trigger.  She contacted Jason Bush.  Jason had lead Shawna to believe he was a military trained specialist who had killed the "bad guys" before.  She believed that Jason could be easily manipulated into joining the team to hit the drug dealers.  However, she was unaware of the unprovoked murders  Jason left behind him in his past.   If she knew,  she would had likely attempted to use him much earlier because like Gibler,  he was a killer who would strike upon her command.

Jason had been staying in Meadview with a girl he met following his separation.  Jason had told her that he was considering reenlisting in the military following a termination from their mutual place of employment.  Then, on May 27th she returned home to find Jason Bush packing his belongings to leave.  It was an abrupt departure and she had no forewarning that he was leaving so soon.  Jason told her that he was needed sooner than expected and was leaving that night to go reenlist.   The abrupt need to leave occurred one week after the arrest of Thomas Gibler when it became obvious the man was not getting out.
Bush told his girlfriend that someone was coming to pick him up to take him to reenlist.   A blonde woman in a orange car showed up; it was Shawn Forde.   Bush introduced her to his girlfriend before saying goodbye.  She was under the impression Shawna was delivering Jason to reenlist but in reality they were embarking on a six-hour drive to Arivaca.   They lied because of the illegal activities they had in mind.

They arrived in Arivaca on May 27th and met with Gaxiola and Oakstar.   Oakstar testified it was the first time he met Bush.   The meeting consisted of sharing intel as to their targets;   the first target, a stash house Gaxiola claimed belonged to the Mexican cartel,  was hit the next day.   Oakstar alleged that during the invasion a man was shot, presumable killed.   The defense countered by pointing out there was not any body discovered.  However,  it would not be unusual for a body to not turn up.   The Mexican cartel took care of its own problems as to not draw the attention of law enforcement to its activities.   A text sent by Gaxiola to Forde corroborated Oin Oakstar's testimony that they hit another home the night before.

13:38 hours: Gaxiola to Ford  “Bad guys (drug dealers) looking for crew who broke door (Shawna et all). Dog that took blast made it (possibly means the guy they shot). Text when arrive. O has to give Red early tour.”

The day following the May 28th job,  Shawna and her team prepared for another job that evening.  The violence nature of the plan to hit the Flores' home was captured in the texts shared between Albert Gaxiola and Shawna Forde.  Ammo was needed because they were anticipating having to shoot and kill someone.

MAY 29th 
2:39 pm: Forde :   “Oh needs a box of SK ammo and a box of triple buck shot and one box of slugs.”
2:44 pm: Gaxiola to Forde   “Bag of 7.62 in ammo box by main door. Copy on slugs.”
2:45 pm: Forde to Gaxiola   “10-4.”
According to testimony by Oin Oakstar,  he was supposed to return that evening and assist with the job to rob the Flores' home.    Text evidence corroborated his testimony

3:43 pm: Forde (to Gaxiola)   “O returning with me after nightfall."

According to Oin Oakstar,  he bowed out of the heist at the eleventh hour; something about the job did not feel right.  He told Gaxiola he was too drunk and high to participate.  His testimony is once again corroborated by other evidence in the case. Gina denied seeing Oin at the home and the two additional men who entered spoke Spanish,  something not necessary for them to do unless one of them did not speak English.  Additionally,  when Jason Bush initially confessed, the only two people he implicated were Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola.   (Jason Bush's confession was not part of either Gaxiola's or Shawna's trial as it was not legal to use against them unless Bush agreed to testify for the State. He did not)


Evidence showed that a teal minivan was associated with the murders.   Oin testified that he was instructed to go with Jason Bush and Shawna Forde in the teal minivan to show them the location and set-up of the Flores' home.      His testimony was corroborated by texts between Shawna and Albert on the afternoon before the murder.

  • 3:38 hours: Gaxiola to Ford  “Bad guys looking for crew who broke door . Dog that took blast made it . Text when arrive. O has to give Red early tour.”
    • Gaxiola was sending Oin out to the car to direct them to the Flores' home. 
  • 1:41 pm Forde: Here now
    • Shawna texted like he instructed.
  • 1:42 pm Gaxiola: Copy.  Sending Oh.  Get his number.

According to Oin,  Shawna and Jason rode in the front of the van while he hid in the back.  He did not wish to be recognized if someone spotted them.   And, someone did.   When Gina Gonzales was interviewed on May 31st in the ICU,  she provided a lead that alerted detectives to be on the look out for a teal minivan.  Her statement corroborated Oin's testimony about the drive-by.

Gina spoke about the drive-by during her testimony in all three cases.   

They drove by very very slowly.  I looked at them, and I kind of waved.  It seemed like they were talking about me, I don't know, they were whispering or something to each other.   They were talking to each other and she kind of waved, not really wanted to wave, but she waved back...............  It was a teal minivan.  I remember it being an astro van and it was an older model. -- Gina Gonzales, testimony,  Gaxiola .trial

A similar older, astro-type teal minivan was captured during the filming of a MAD border watch in late 2008/ early 2009.    MAD had set up in a remote location near the border;  it was an ideal spot for crossings.  The only ones present when the van was captured on video was Shawna Forde, members of her group, those with the documentary crew, and possibly a rare lookie-loo.  There were not many others around because it was a remote location that was ideal for border jumpers to get through unnoticed. 

It, of course, could be a mere coincidence that a similar type vehicle had been spotted in the background of a MAD border watch.  An argument could be made that it  belonged to a member of the documentary team or anyone who came out to watch the film crew. But, that was not the case. Other evidence showed that the minivan was being used by MAD.   Chuck Stonex,  a leader in Shawna's group,  was filmed removing what looked like  a gun from the back of the van.  

Chuck Stonex testified for the State and provided further information that  linked both Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola to the teal minivan.   He stated Shawna called him to Arivaca to look at one of her men who was shot;  that man was Jason Bush.  When he arrived, she met him at the Arivaca Mercantile and she was driving a teal minivan.  Shawna then lead him a few minutes away,  to a near-by residence where Jason Bush was located.   Stonex later stated he believed the residence to be that of Albert Gaxiola.  The van was later discovered by detectives in front of Albert Gaxiola's home.


One time friend,  "Uncle Al' to the children,  was the man who provided Raul Flores' name to Shawna Forde as someone to attack.  Had it not been for Albert Gaxiola identifying Raul's home as a target for Shawna to hit,  a 9-year old girl would not have been shot point-blank in the face while Shawna Forde stole her mother's jewelry.  The last words her mother heard from the girl would not be those of her pleading for her life.  And, the mother would not have had to be witness the smile on Forde's face just minutes after the girl's life was stolen from her.
On the evening of May 29th,  like any other day,  Gina and Raul went to bed feeling secure in their home.  It would be the last time Gina would feel the security of a person whose life was not devastated by an unnecessary and heartless act of greed-induced violence. Their 9-year old  daughter was sleeping on the love seat in the living room with her new puppy.  Gina had just cleaned the girl's bed and didn't want the puppy in it. Shortly after midnight on May 30, 2009,  Raul was alerted by a commotion outside of his home.   It appeared that law enforcement had once again caught a border jumper outside in the wash adjacent to their home.

"I was asleep and he (Raul) was telling me that I needed to get up.  I wake up and he's standing by the bed, and he's looking out the window and he tells me that he thinks the sheriff is here or law enforcement and that I need to get up and put some clothes on...........  We've had law enforcement come around a couple of times because they found illegals or something in the wash so they will come up and let us know that they are down there and then they'll leave."  Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola  case

As in prior occasions, two individuals claiming to be Border Patrol knocked on the door of  Gina and Raul's Arivaca home. But, this visit would be unlike any other they had experienced before.  A short, stocky female in camouflage told him they were looking for a fugitive and he needed to let her in.

He (Raul) came out of the bedroom and he went this way, (turning into the kitchen)..... He was turning on all of the lights.......  I went straight into the living room and I went and sat where Brisenia was..... He (Raul) turned on the light in the dining room and came straight down to the door.  He opens the door and  this lady and there's a man and the lady's telling him to hurry up and open the door.  That they've got a call that we've been harboring fugitives and they need to come in and they need to check the house.  I could see her a bit,  I can't see him........  He (Raul) says well let me put some clothes on and then I'll open the door.  And she says No, if you move we'll shoot you.... She said the house was surrounded with border patrol...... She said if he moved, she'd shoot him.   Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola case

Raul Flores was apprehensive about letting the individuals in.  Although law enforcement had appeared on his property before, they had never demanded entry to his home on any of the other occasions. Something did not feel right to him.

"I believe he (Raul) asked for ID and they said they didn't have time for that to hurry up and open the door.....   they come barging in and the short, heavyset woman and the very tall, big guy.  And, as soon as he comes in...... um. Brisenia had a Guniea pig cage... he puts his gun down on top of the cage............  it was a longer gun.   He (the tall man) told him (Raul) to sit down.  He sits right here (on the other couch).  They're yelling at us to shut up and we need to be quiet.  We don't have the right to talk and if we have any questions we need to raise our hands.  And she was just yelling and barking orders.  Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola case

At court, Gina Gonzales was asked to describe the people in her home.

"She was short and heavyset........  he's (the tall man)  a little weird, a little nervous ..... he was very very tall,  a bigger guy, very odd hairline,  and he was in camouflage as well.   He's asking if this if everybody in the house.  He's asking are you guys all in here?  ...............  It's (the tall man's face) painted black.... like a guy who takes hunting very seriously..................  he had another gun.  It was a handgun. "    Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola case

She was also asked if she had ever seen either of the two people before.  "Never."  The people who had to come to her home were not anyone she recognized.   According to what Jason Bush later confessed, that was the plan.  They knew Albert would be recognized and he and Shawna would not so they made the first contact to gain access.  

Gina continued to pay attention to the two people in her home.  She noted the woman appeared to be the leader and was giving the orders to both the man and to others via a walkie talkie.    While the leader was barking orders,  Raul asked more questions. 

"he said what's going on  when you guys came into the house you didn't show me any ID.  He says that gun over there has got duct tape on it.  He wanted to know what was going on.........   the tall guy says "Don't take this personally but this bullet has your name on it.  He shoots at him..........  As soon as he said this bullet has your name on it Junior jumped off the couch and like kind of grabbed his arms and they wrestled a little bit.  The guy was taller and stronger and he kind of pushed Junior out of the way and he shot at him.........  at that moment I freak out and I jump up because I don't know what's going on and he shoots me......  he shot me, twice.  He shot me in the shoulder which came out the bottom of my right breast and he shot me in my thigh.  When he hit me in the leg it completely knocked me down and I fell on the floor.  Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola case

After she fell to the floor,  Gina Gonzales played dead.  As she laid horrified on the floor, she listened while the woman watched the man murder her husband.   

"she (Brisenia)  was starting to wake up...... My husband was yelling please stop shooting my wife.  Please stop shooting her.. and um...(sobbing)  they finished him off...............  I just laid on the floor very scared and I heard Junior taking his last breath and he was saying no no.. (sobbing) and I could hear his lungs filling up with.........  (sobbing harder)  I don't know if it was blood or water..I could just hear him gasping for air.   Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola case

After Junior was shot, Shawna spoke.  She gave the all clear sign for the other men to enter the home. The men could not enter until Raul and Gina were down because the victims knew at least one of them, Albert Gaxiola.    After Shawna's command,  Gaxiola and the unidentified man entered the home.  It was obvious the unidentified man did not speak English and it was unlikely Jason Bush knew him.  Gaxiola had to interpret for Bush to understand.

"She said,  Everything's clear. ...  Two more people came into the house.... I could hear them (but not see them).....  I could hear them conversating with each other..... (they were speaking) Spanish.  One guy was telling the other guy in Spanish that he has another daughter, where is she at.  The other guy goes to the shooter and says he has another daughter, where is she at.   Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola case

Gina could not see the intruders because she was playing dead on the floor.  Had she moved to take a peek, they would have known she was not dead and killed her.  She listened intently for anything that could later help bring the people who killed her husband to justice.   She heard the two new men rummaging through her kitchen and speaking to each other in Spanish as they did.  She also could hear noises coming from the back bedroom where she kept her jewelry.   It had to be Shawna in her bedroom as Jason Bush was still in the living room standing guard over a sleeping 9-year old and what he thought were her dead parents.   Shawna took the jewelry from Gina's home and her greedy actions helped to bring her down.  The jewelry was later discovered with Shawna and she tried to get her child to lie to cover up her foolish mistake.  Shawna's  materialistic nature helped to convict her. 

I could hear them... it sounded like they were in the bedroom going through the dressers.  I could hear doors slamming.  In the kitchen I could hear the pantry doors opening and closing.  ..........The Mexicans?  They were saying did you get the weed? and did you get the money.  they said there is no weed then I heard them say there was no money.Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola case

The next thing Gina heard will stick with her forever.  It will be the nightmare that she will never forget because Shawna Forde and her gang  valued money more than the life of an innocent young child.

Brisenia is up.  He (the shooter) goes up and talks to her.  He says, um, he's telling her hat nothing is going to happen to her and that she's going to be OK.  She needs to calm down because she was crying a lot. She was scared. And she's asking him why did you shoot my dad.  And he says do you have a sister or brother. (Sobbing) and she says I have a sister.  He says where is she at. and she says, um,  she's at her Nana's house.   (He says) Where does your Nana live? Brisenia says I don't know.   He points to me and says it that your sister right there?   Brisenia goes "yeah,"  and then she tips over and she looks at me and she says, "no, that's my mom. Why did you shoot my mom."   Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola case

He's all out of bullets by then because he's used them on me and Junior. He stands there and loads the gun right in front of her (Brisenia)...... I can hear it happening and I can hear her telling him, please don't shoot me, please don't shoot me."  Gina Gonzales, testimony, FORDE trial.  

The last words Gina will ever hear from her daughter are her terrified words pleading for her life.  The last vision of her daughter will be her flying back after being shot and choking on her blood.   They last sounds she will ever hear will not be the joy of laughter of a 9-year old child;  it will be the gurgling sounds escaping from Brisenia's mouth as she struggled to breath while drowning in her blood. 

  He shot her. I just saw her fly back.  He shot her twice............  the woman starts to say we gotta get out of here, we gotta go.  She's saying there's a 4-wheeler coming and we gotta leave.  And I can hear glass being broken. I assumed they were breaking the lights on the turtle and the lights on  (a picture of) Junior's mom.  I wasn't too sure but it was somewhere in that area that they were breaking.  They all ran out, they all left..............   Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola trial

As soon as the intruders left,  Gina's first action was to check on her child.  The desperation and helplessness she felt at not being able to save her daughter could be heard in her voice as she testified. 

 I sat up and I grabbed Brisenia.... I was telling her not to die on me  (Sobbing hard).  She was shaking really bad.  My phone was a little bit down from her and I grabbed it and I called 911..... Brisenia was throwing up all her blood. And I'm asking her (911) what I should do, if I should move her.  And I believe that I am standing up, I am like over her trying to put her to her side or... do something with her - Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola trial.

While a distressed Gina was desperately trying to save her child's life,  Shawna Forde walked back in happy as a lark. She didn't have a care in the world because it wasn't her child who was brutally murdered.   She believed that they were going to get away with the execution of a drug dealer and his family.   She was under the impression they had killed all witnesses;  the only thing left to do was to retrieve the gun that was left behind because it could provide a link back to them.

Despite knowing that Bush had just executed an innocent child at point-blank range,  Shawna stepped into the home with a big smile on her face;  her demeanor quickly changed when she realized a victim had survived.

and um. trying that the lady walks back in.  She's got her hair pulled back and it's in a little pony tail and she doesn't have the camouflage jacket on anymore.  And she has a big smile on her face.  I didn't hear her (come in) I just saw her.  I was talking on the phone looking towards the door. She got her foot in the door and she's smiling.  She looks up and she sees me and her face drops. She looked at me and she turned around.  I could hear her saying she's still alive.  She's still alive. You need to go back in there and finish her off.   Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola trial.

Gina was terrified.  The people who had demonstrated they were willing to shoot an innocent child at point-blank range had just found out she survived.  Her horror can be heard in her voice on the 911 tape.

"They're coming back in,  They're coming back in!!!!!!!!"

Gina was in a panic,  but she remembered the gun Junior kept in the home.  Her quick thinking and actions saved her life so she could assist in bringing the murderers of her family to justice.

I'm panicking,  I'm freaking out.   A million things are going through my head and I remembered that Junior has a gun in the kitchen.  I immediately tried to move as fast as I could to get the gun.  And um, my leg snaps from under me,  I could see the bone and everything.   My leg goes out right where the table's at.  I remember the table caught me and I held myself up and I used the wall to get to the kitchen...........  I took it (gun) out of the holster and I took the safety off and because I didn't know how to use the gun I slid the.. I just messed with whatever.  And right there when I grabbed the gun my leg went out completely from under me and I fell on the floor..... Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola trial.

Just as Shawna ordered,  Jason Bush returned to try to kill Gina.  Gina's demands for Jason to leave can be heard on the 911 call.  

  • Gina: get the fuck out of here, get the fuck out of here.    
  • Tall man:  Shut your fucking mouth.
  • Gina: You've done enough!  Get out of here!

 The guy who shot us came back in.  I don't really see him,  but he comes about right here and starts shooting at me.  By then I scooted myself over here by the washing machine and dryer.  I have my back to the washing machine and dryer and I'm using this little spot right here to press my leg against to put pressure on it...................He's shooting at me and he's not really looking at where I am at.  he's shooting diagonal and just like throwing bullets wherever.  And finally, he kind of peeks his head in a bit and maybe gets his first leg in and that's when I first start shooting at him.    I shot back and he started cussing out loud. I finally see him run out the front door. .............. 

Jason failed at Shawna's instructions  to "finish her off". Gina fired the gun and struck Jason Bush twice:  once in his bullet proof vest and once in his leg.  After Jason fled, Gaxiola stuck his head in.  As soon as he saw Gina looking at him,  he realized he may have made a grave mistake.

 I scooted my body over here and I'm peeking out to see if anyone else is going to come in.........  A Mexican guy comes in and, um, he looks at Junior and Brisenia kind of and comes in and then he looks at me and says "Oh shit" and he pops his head right back out..............  I looked at him and I double took him and a million things went through my mind.............Gina Gonzales,  testimony, Gaxiola trial.

Gina was confused because the man looked like a family friend who her daughters knew as "Uncle Al."   She could not understand how a man who her daughter had loved so much could be connected to an individual who would shoot her point-blank in her face. 

I told them (the investigator) I said to myself,  was that Albert?"  Gina Gonzales, testimony, Gaxiola trial.

The intruders ran from the scene following the gun fight. Multiple gunshots were exchanged and Shawna and her crew could not take the chance that the noise had attracted the attention of neighbors who might respond to help.   She and her team fled, leaving a witness alive and several pieces of evidence behind.

  • An AK47 was recovered in the home
    • DNA taken from the gun was a match to Albert Gaxiola.
  • A pearl handled .357 revolver was recovered by the fence line of the home.
    • There was DNA and a print found on it that matched Shawna Forde.
      • This information was not used in her trial but was shared in Albert Gaxiola's trial.
  • A trail of blood was discovered leading away from the home.
    • The blood was tested and the DNA matched Jason Bush.  
      • Shawna claimed she was with the black-face painted Bush when he was shot but claimed it was three hours east of Arivaca.  
Gina remained on the phone while help was en route.  She begged and pleaded with the operators to get them to hurry up.   It took responders almost 20 minutes to arrive;  the Flores' home was 30 miles from the nearest law enforcement and the roads were dark, winding and hazardous at night.  Unlike those fleeing from the scene, law enforcement  had a duty to maintain safety as they sped along the dark roads.  While she waited on the phone with 911 for help to arrive, Gina's distress was evident.

  "I can't believe they killed my family." she cried.  

Law enforcement finally arrived and after securing the scene,  emergency personal were allowed to assist Gina Gonzales.  She was quickly taken to a Tucson hospital where she underwent emergency surgery and was admitted to the ICU.


After Jason Bush was shot and Gaxiola was spotted sticking his head into Gina's home,  they fled the scene in different vehicles.   Shawna and Jason sped away in the teal minivan;  Jason's blood from his gunshot wound would be recovered inside the van two days later; it was a match to the blood recovered from  the crime scene.   Shawna and Jason fled to Gaxiola's home,  just a 7 minute drive away from the crime scene.

At the posted speed,  the 3 mile trip from the Flores' home to the Gaxiola residence was a 7 minute trip;  it would be much faster for those driving above the speed limit.

Gina Gonzales placed her 911 call at 12:49 am.  According to the recording on the call,  the intruders returned during the first minute of her call.  A gunfight broke out and the intruders fled soon after.  It was about another 14 minutes before Gina heard law enforcement pull up at her home.

It took 24 minutes following the start of the 911 call for the first officer to arrive at the scene at 1:13 am..  He watched the roads as he approached for suspicious oncoming traffic  but Shawna and Jason had been traveling in the same direction as he on the road so their paths would never cross.

The officer's report meant that Shawna and her gang did not head east on Arivaca road or they would have been spotted.  Evidence supports that they headed west to Gaxiola's Arivaca residence to lay low until the police presence in the area disappeared.   A set of texts shared between Shawna and Gaxiola's phone showed that Shawna was at his home about an hour after they fled from the Flores' home.
  • 0208 Forde “How do we turn camera on in bedroom?”
  • 0210 Gaxiola “Press input button on TV.”
  • 0213 Forde “TV controller? What color?”
  • 0215  Gaxiola “Gray. Press TV. Press input. Input 1.”
  • 0217  Forde “Got it.”
  • 0218  Gaxiola “Copy. Sweet dreams. Out.”

Gaxiola's location was determined by a report by his neighbor, although she had made conflicting statements regarding the time.   She originally told the detectives she believed she had spotted Albert starting his car around 12:00 -12:15 am prior to the murders.  In court, she claimed it was actually 1:15 am.   Either time would place him in the area around the time of the murders.

"At 1:15, I woke up because somebody had been slamming a car lid in Albert’s yard. I looked at the clock. They tried to start the car and it flooded out and they slammed the lid. That was going on about six times. I went out and looked over my back fence and I could see over there. There was a car and a lady in there with blond hair. I got a whiff of the exhaust and couldn’t breathe so I went back into the house.” -- Inga Hartman, testimony, Gaxiola trial, Ricker's Radar Screen


A name known to many familiar with the Jodi Arias trial appeared in the Albert Gaxiola trial.
Lonnie Dworkin was hired by the defense to provide testimony in Albert Gaxiola's favor.  The defense alleged that Dworkin would provide the evidence that would show the 1:33 am cell phone message pinged off a tower that was out of the range where Gaxiola would have had to be if he was involved in the homicides.

"He can't be in two places at once"

Lonnie Dworkin was asked to explain his knowledge of how cell phones work.  He replied,

"“When a phone call is made or a message is sent the time is logged, but the phone has to be within a certain range of the tower for that tower to handle the call. The cell tower, at its maximum range, could be up to 22 miles of coverage as the crow flies.” Ricker's Rader Screen, Dworkin Testimony

Dworkin was further questioned about the text sent at 1:33 am and what cell tower it had pinged. According to Dworkin, it was the Elephant Head Cell Tower near Arivaca Junction that was located 15-18 miles east of I-19.  The defense implied that the location of the tower  meant that the furthest west from I-19 on Arivaca road Gaxiola could have been was five miles.  They noted that the timeline did not include enough leeway to  permit Gaxiola's involvement in murder.  The defense implied that even if Gaxiola started heading toward Arivaca Junction immediately following the first officer's arrival at 1:13 am,  he still could not have reached the cell range by 1:33 am.

According to the defense's opening statements,  the drive from Arivaca to Arivaca junction at normal speed took 42 - 45 minutes.  However, that time was reduced to 36 minutes by an investigator they hired to time the trip at normal speed.
The defense claimed that the evidence made it impossible for Gaxiola to be in Arivaca for the murders and then make it to the location to send the 1:33 am text:
  • The main road out of Arivaca to Arivaca junction was Arivaca road. 
  • The officer heading toward the scene was driving west on Arivaca road.  He arrived at 1:13 am and did not witness any oncoming traffic.  It meant that Gaxiola could not have been heading East prior to 1:13 am.
  • It took at least 36 minutes to arrive in Arivaca Junction at normal speeds. To get to the range of the cell phone tower it would have taken Gaxiola at least 30 minutes.  He would not have arrived until 1:43 am,  a full ten minutes past the time the text was sent.  
The evidence seemed to support Gaxiola's defense at least up to the time when the prosecution cross-examined him.   
  • Lonnie admitted that he misspoke regarding the location of the Elephant Head Tower;  it was only 8 miles east of I-19,  not 15-18.  The change in the cell phone tower distance made it very possible for Gaxiola to have sent the text message. 

The corrected location of the Elephant Head Cell Tower was not the only testimony the State elicited from the defense witness that showed it was very possible for Gaxiola to reach the location to send the text after the detectives had arrived on the scene. 
  • Dworkin was asked if variables could exist in a rural tower (such as was the location of the Elephant Head Tower) that could extend its range.  According to Dworkin's answer,  there was.
    • "The strength of the signal would be one. The other would be the height of the antenna is another due to better line of sight and fewer obstructions,"  Rickers Radar Screen,  Dworkin testimony
    • Due to it's location in the Arizona Desert, it was very possible for the EH tower to reach beyond the "usual" 22 miles.  
  • Dworkin was also asked if it was unusual for cell phones to ping towers further than those closest to it.   His answer was not only that it was common,  it was what appeared to happen with two of Gaxiola's calls following the texts he sent. 
    • Arizona Star Report:


The prosecution called a retired Tucson police officer named Lewis Adams to testify opposite to the defense claim that Albert Gaxiola could not have been in Arivaca when he sent the 1:33 am text.   The officer spoke from his experience.

"There’s this place called cellphone hill. You get a little ways past Universal Ranch Road and you pick up Green Valley and you pick up the Amado one, (Elephant Head)"  

The area the officer described could be reached within five minutes after leaving the Gaxiola home. 

The jury had a question for Lonnie Dworkin as well.  Per his answer,  he was only working on theory and not fact.

JURY:  How far west on the Arivaca Road can a cellphone communicate with the Elephant Head tower?
DWORKIN:  “I couldn’t say definitively, theoretically up to about 22 miles from the Elephant Head antenna,"

In his answer to the jury,  Dworkin tried to salvage the damage he had done to the defense's case after the prosecution got him to admit the Elephant Head Tower was much more closer than he initially claimed.   He tried to create doubt in the prosecution case by suggesting a possibility.  
"Given there is an antenna in Arivaca they may not want them to overlap so the antenna from Elephant Head not extend a full 22 miles out. It may only extend 15 miles out." - Dworkin testimony,  Gaxiola trial,  Ricker's Rader Screen
However,  Dworkin's explanation was nothing more than speculation and the opposite could be true as well.   Given there was an antenna in Elephant Head they may not want them to overlap so the Arivaca tower may not extend a full 22 miles out.    The exact ranges of the towers, their heights, and their setting could have easily been clarified had the defense sought testimony from the owners of the towers. Instead,  they used someone who could only speculate. 

The additional testimony elicited by the prosecution from Dworkin meant that Gaxiola could have sent the 1:33 text while still in the Arivaca area and in view of the Arivaca crime scene.  Other testimony was presented to show that Albert Gaxiola could have made it to Arivaca in less time than the defense claimed.  Detective Navarro timed his trip between the locations  and it only took him about 33 minutes to do it at normal speed.  Gaxiola did not need to reach Arivaca to be in the cell phone range.  It could be reached at locations between 5 - 10 miles away from Gaxiola's home. 

Normal speed for the road had to be around 40 MPH to obtain the times the defense investigator and Narvarro indicated.   At higher rates of speed,  such as someone who once plead guilty to driving at a "SPEED GREATER THAN REASONABLE AND PRUDENT" might drive,  meant that an individual could make it to Arivaca to Arivaca junction in only about 20 minutes or even less depending on his "greater than reasonable speed.".  It also meant that he could have been in range of the EH cell tower in just minutes after seeing the police lights in the area of the Arivaca crime scene as he sped along Arivaca road.

If Gaxiola left immediately after the officer's 1:13 arrival on the scene, he would have easily made it
to an area well within the Elephant Head tower. However, testimony from a neighbor suggested that Gaxiola did not leave until around 1:25 - 1:30 am according to the time on her clock.  Even with the later time Gaxiola still would have been able to reach an area within the tower range.   The evidence suggests a timeline much different than the one the defense tried to make the jury believe.  
  1. 12:55 am:  Gina sees Gaxiola and he flees from the scene.
  2. 12:56 am - he meets Shawna and Bush at his Arivaca residence and they help the injured Bush inside.
  3. Between 1:00 am and 1:15 am:  A decision is made to drive to an area where they can monitor the crime scene unnoticed.  Gaxiola's car will not start due to a bad alternator.  Shawna is assisting him to jump the car.
  4. 1:15 am a neighbor is awakened by the sounds of the hoods slamming on the vehicles.  The neighbor testified that she remembered the time because she looked at the clock.  What is not known is if the time on her clock matched the time on Gaxiola's cell phone. The noise prompts the neighbor to go out and investigate.  She peeks over the fence but it only gives her a partial view of what is going on;  she sees the car and a blonde woman sitting in it but does not see Albert.  She believes it is him because she hears his voice.   She does not stay long due to the smell of exhaust which indicated a car had been running.  
  5. 1:15 am - 1:20 am - the neighbor returns inside and hears the noises outside continue.  She is under the impression that it is a car hood she hears slam but it could have been a door or trunk instead.   According to the neighbor, the noises stopped about 10-20 minutes after she was first awakened.  
  6. 1:27 am - Gaxiola leaves his home and heads towards the crime scene driving at a "SPEED GREATER THAN REASONABLE AND PRUDENT"
  7. 1:28 it is less than a minute after his departure before Gaxiola is able to see the tell-tale flashing lights of police vehicles.  The lights are coming form a location in the general area of the Flores' home  about 1/2 mile east of Arivaca road.
  8. Gaxiola continues to drive at a "SPEED GREATER THAN REASONABLE AND PRUDENT."   Within 5 minutes after leaving his home,  he is in range of the Elephant Head Cell Tower.  He sends the 1:33 am text and it is picked up by the Elephant Head Tower. 
"Cops on scene,  Lay low"
The response to the text indicated that it was Gaxiola who sent it.  The text and Oin Oakstar's testimony about Gaxiola's desire to eliminate his competition corroborated each other.

"No worries. All good. Just relax.
 Competition gone"


After sending the 1:33 am Gaxiola apparently continued to head north towards Tucson.  His goal was to get as far away from the area and use the alibi that he was in Tucson at the time the murders occurred.  However, Shawna Forde appeared to be under the impression that he was going to stay in the Arivaca area.

2:41 am FORDE: "Can u stop and get a few rolls gauze and compress bandages? Big ones at a 24 hour store.”

Gaxiola replied that he could not and used his car troubles as an excuse. It's unclear if his car truly broke down or if Gaxiola had been using it as an excuse to avoid returning to Avarica.  According to Dworkin, Gaxiola made two phone calls at 2:08 and 2:10 pm that bypassed the tower nearest to him. The location of the tower pinged by the phone calls were not shared.   It's possible that the calls he made were to AAA and he was waiting for the tow to arrive.

2:43 am GAXIOLA: “Use towels. Anything you need. Car dead on side of road.”
2:46 am FORDE: “We’re on it. No worries. Are you going to be okay? Someone coming to get you?”
GAXIOLA:  "AAA en route"

The neighbor's testimony supported the claim of car trouble in Gaxiola's text.  Testimony from Gaxiola's girlfriend Gina Moraga did as well.  She reported that on May 29th, prior to picking Gaxiola up for a trip to Tucson his Hyundai Tiburon had failed to start but didn't tell him about it until it happened again after they arrived in Arivaca.   Moraga implied that she only needed to jump start the vehicle to get it running.  Her description of the car problems matched what Gaxiola claimed was wrong with it in a text he sent.

7: 45 am GAXIOLA: "Had to sleep. Car alternator bad. When are you coming this way?”

Gaxiola was in Tucson at the time he sent the text, having decided to have the car towed to his Tucson home instead of the Arivaca one.  Tucson was where he was intending to go.   However, neither Shawna nor Jason were  aware of his planned destination.

6:15 am Bush on Forde's  phone: “What is ur eta? This is Red.”
07:45 am Forde: “Dude, Red cannot be moved. Where are you?

Gaxiola was not eager to return to Arivaca.  He wanted to maintain the distance between himself and the crime scene so he could use the alibi that he was in Tucson at the time.   He was aware of the wound Bush had and it was not life-threatening.  The man was only shot in his leg.  Determined to avoid the risk of returning to  Arivaca,  Gaxiola encouraged Shawna to come to him; the car trouble she witnessed gave him a way to avoid giving in to her demands.

07:52 am Gaxiola: “Car alternator bad. Will not start in Tucson. You have to get him up and bring him to town or lay low until car fixed.

C.Y.O.A -  Cover Your Own Ass

Shawna Forde was just as, if not more, determined to avoid taking risks that would link her to the murders that occurred hours earlier.   Her only transportation out of Arivaca was the teal minivan.  Shawna knew the surviving witness had seen the van the morning prior to the murders because she waved at her.   She could not take the risk of driving the van on the only road leading out of Arivaca to Tucson.   The possibility that law enforcement would be watching the roads for a vehicle matching any description the survivor may have given was too high.  She spent the next few hours concocting a plan to get Albert Gaxiola to bring her the car that she left at his home in Tucson to her location in Arivaca.

The first step she took was to call a member of her Minutemen team who she knew was going to attend a gathering about 2 1/2 hours away.   She called Chuck Stonex and requested he bring her a medical kit because one of her men were injured the night before.  Chuck suggested Shawna take the man to the hospital,  and she claimed that it was not an option because the man did not have insurance.   Chuck agreed but informed Shawna he would not be able to arrive until late in the day. Prior to starting on his way to Shawna,  Chuck checked with her to see if it was OK if he brought Laine Lawless along to meet Shawna.   Shawna agreed.  

Just before 2 pm Shawna sent a text to Gaxiola to help manipulate him to taking the risk of returning to Arivaca.   She wanted to give him a false sense of security that would make it more likely for him to comply with her request.

1:54 pm: Forde to Gaxiola:   “Hey bro saw the news everything is good.

A few moments later,  she made her request:

2:02 pm Forde to Gaxiola:  Can you bring my car? Will be better for now.”

Gaxiola did not readily reply.  He was either busy attempting to fix his car or avoiding Shawna while he tried to figure out a way to abstain from returning to Arivaca.  He attempted to take advantage of the fact that Shawna was alone in Arivaca without any means to get him the keys.

4:42 pm Gaxiola: Send keys up. I’ll take your car down.

His plan backfired;  Shawna was already working on her plan before she asked Gaxiola to bring her her car.  She avoided telling him she had a way of getting her keys to him until after he agreeed to bring her her car.

4:44 pm Forde:  IG&T people on the way here. I’ll send them keys. It will be late

Gaxiola was left without any other choice to comply if he wanted to stay in Shawna's good graces.  She outsmarted him and left him in the position where he could not provide any legitimate excuse to not do as she had asked.

4:46 pm Gaxiola to Forde: “If I get car fixed first I will go down there. Otherwise, as soon as I get keys will go down”

Gaxiola did not want to damage his new found friendship with Shawna Forde. She was not only his partner in business to help eliminate his competition,  she was his partner in bed.  Shawna's experience as a prostitute made her proficient in using sex to help her maintain control over a man.

 Hours after he agreed to bring Shawna's car to her,  Gaxiola reached out to keep the business partnership alive.   But Shawna's focus was on herself and getting her car to her so she could get far from the area. 
7:02 pm Gaxiola: How are you all hanging? Get your rest and gather strength. Red on med leave. Next target intel will need a 4 man team. Details when we meet. Gina
7:04 pm Forde: Where to u want the keys dropped? Can get them dropped by 10.
7:07 pm Gaxiola:  “Pima and Craycroft. Have them call when arrive. Will meet. Gina.

Chuck and Laine arrived just after sundown.  He expected to discover a severe wound that would have validated someone requesting that he took the 2.5 hour trip to bring them a medical kit.  Instead, the wound he was faced with seemed laughable.

“It looked like a 10-year-old who had done a crash and burn on first base,” he quipped. “It was very slight, about an inch wide and two inches long.” - Ricker's radar screen,  Stonex testimony

The nature of the wound indicated there was more to Shawna's request than a need for  Stonex to come to her to treat it.   And there was.  Laine Lawless who had tagged along for the trip was asked to "take the keys up"  to Albert Gaxiola in Tucson.   Chuck Stonex testified that he witnessed Shawna Forde give Laine Lawless a set of keys and a piece of paper prior to their departure after he treated Jason's minor boo-boo.   The texts shared between the phones corroborated his testimony
  1. 4:42 pm Gaxiola: Send keys up. I’ll take your car down.
  2. 4:44 pm Forde:  IG&T people on the way here. I’ll send them keys. It will be late
  3. 7:04 pm Forde: Where to u want the keys dropped? Can get them dropped by 10. 
  4. 7:07 pm Gaxiola:  “Pima and Craycroft. Have them call when arrive. Will meet. Gina.
  5. 9:28 pm Forde: We told the woman you are a minuteman. Red is patched up.”
  6. 10:33 pm Forde: He is amazing man. All good. Remember you are one of my minutemen. When you get keys I’ll see you in am. Love you.
  7. 8:59 am Gaxiola: Have phone on for keys this am.”
  8. 10:37 am Forde: “Got keys yet?”
  9. 10:38 am Gaxiola: At noon. Already spoke with her. Meeting at noon.
  10. 2:12 pm Gaxiola: Have keys. Will be heading south soon. Will text when I depart.
Stonex initially did not inform law enforcement that Laine Lawless was with him when he patched up Bush's wound.  He wanted to leave it up to her to choose to do so.  However,  after Laine was online proclaiming Forde's innocence,  he changed his mind and made the investigators aware.  It angered him that she saw the same thing he did but was telling a different story. Investigators  interviewed Lawless who did not deny Stonex's statement.   When asked about the keys,  she admitted she took them to Albert.  Later, she changed her story and stated the "Albert" she took them to was not Albert Gaxiola.  However,  Stonex's statement and the texts coming from Albert's G/F's phone indicated that it was. 

Although he had the keys in hand,  Albert Gaxiola was reluctant to return to Arivaca.  Despite the trip being a short one hour drive,  it was not until many hours later that he finally arrived.  Shawna was aware of his hesitancy,  and used manipulation to give him a false sense of security so he would make the trip.  Her only concern was to get her vehicle so she could get the Hell out of town and far away form the teal minivan and the murder scene.
  • 3:15 pm Forde: “How you doing? All quiet here.”
  • 3:18 pm Gaxiola: “Good. Getting ready to go back. Be in right after dark. Everything cool on my side. See you real soon.”
  • 6:46 pm Forde: Still cool here, bro.
  • 6:59 pm Gaxiola: I will be there right after dark.” 

Shawna tried to tempt him with the idea of eliminating more of his competition but he continued to delay.  

  • 7:05 Forde: “Are we going out on a job tonight?”
  • 7:06 Gaxiola: "ETA 2 hrs. Will advise

 She also continued to assure him it was safe to return.

  • 8:38 pm Forde: “All good here bro.”
  • 8:39 pm Gaxiola: “I will be there real soon.
Gaxiola returned to Arivaca with Shawna's car.   She did not stay at Gaxiola's Arivaca home much longer;  by the next afternoon she and Bush had left.  It was fortunate for Shawna Forde that she left when she did.  During the hours they were hiding out,  law enforcement had obtained information that would lead them directly to Albert Gaxiola's home and the teal minivan in the yard.



  "For homicide detectives, the clock starts ticking the moment they are called. Their chance of solving a murder is cut in half if they don't get a lead within the first 48 hours."

The First 48 

In the Arivaca case, the clock started clicking from the time the 911 call came in.  The 911 call yielded some evidence that helped lead to the conviction of those who were involved in the case.   Evidence such as the guns they left behind and  DNA  helped to convict the killers as well.   The most damaging of all the evidence was the recovery of Jason Bush's blood at the scene.  It directly tied him to the Arivaca murders and additional evidence showed Shawna Forde was with him at the time the injury occurred.  He eventually confessed and implicated Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola.

Witnesses played an important role in the identification and conviction of the murderers as well.  A major lead was discovered just a few hours into those first 48.  Shortly after 4 am,  about three hours into the investigation, a person of interest arrived at the Flores' home.  She claimed she had information for the investigators as to who  killed Raul and his daughter.

Felicia Reese had been staying on the same property as Oin Oakstar's girlfriend, Sandy Stroup.  During that time, she learned that Oin and Albert wanted to take Oin out.   Reece informed the officers of a video Sandy had once shown her.

The AK-47 was a subject of interest for the investigators;  one had been retrieved from the crime scene.  Reese relayed more information to the detective.  According to Reese,  Oakstar's girlfriend had shared information with her that she should not had known.   The girlfriend,  Sandy Stroup,  told Reese:

"specifically that Junior and his daughter had been killed but his wife survived because she had fired back."  - detailed incident report.

Reese thought it was very suspicious that Sandy knew details about the crime so soon after it had occurred.   Sandy had also asked Reese for a favor that alarmed her.  She requested Reese to retrieve Oin's truck from a RV park and bring it back to their home.  There was a RV park  just around a 1/2 mile away from the Flores' home.

Reece's tip allowed detectives to identify "Oin" as Oin Oakstar and she was able to direct them to his home on Bogan avenue.  Based on the information Reese shared,  a warrant was obtained to search the home.  The warrant was served at 1:15 pm and Oin Oakstar was taken into custody.  He was questioned about Junior and the murders.  Oin admitted to knowing Junior and disliking him but he denied knowing anything about the Arivaca murders.  An AK47 was not found in the home but other weapons including a sks rifle, a .357 handgun, and a shotgun were.   Oin readily admitted to handling the guns and eventually stated he fired them as well.   His admission allowed investigators to arrest him for being a felon in possession of firearms.


The following day, May 31, Gina Gonzales was interviewed in the ICU.  She was once again asked to describe the people who had invaded her home.  She provided the descriptions of the man and woman who were the first to enter her home and a brief description of the Mexican man she seen. Both Shawna Forde and Jason Bush closely matched her descriptions.

  • Caucasian male
    • 6'04"
    •  about 300 lbs
    • face painted black
    • 35-50 years old.
  • a bald or receding hairline

  • Caucasian Female
    • short, about 5'00"
    • heavy-set or chubby
    • 35-50 years old
    • Dressed in camouflage

Detectives asked Gina about the individuals from Reece's report.   Gina admitted she knew both Oin Oakstar and his girlfriend Sandy Stroup and that they were definitely not the short heavyset woman or tall man who had entered her home.   She was then asked if she knew an Albert and she did.

"She knew Albert from Arivaca.  She stated Albert had gotten into a dispute with her husband the previous year due to the fact Albert was storing marijuana on their property." -- detailed incident report, Pima County

They asked Gina if the Mexican man she had seen could have been Albert.

"She stated that the Hispanic man who stuck his head into the residence did match the approximate height and weight of Albert, and when she heard him yell "Oh Shit",  it did sound like Albert"

The information from Reese and Gina lead detectives to the door of Albert Gaxiola.   They arrived at his home on 6/01/2009 around 4 pm.  However,  by that time Shawna and Jason had already left.  But, they left behind many items that would ultimately connect them to Albert Gaxiola.

When detectives arrived at Albert's home,  one of the first things they noticed was a teal minivan on the premises.  It matched the one Gina described.   Either Shawna didn't bother to warn Gaxiola that Gina had spotted the van or she did and he did not take the situation serious enough.  It was a big mistake on their part.

Albert willingly opened the door when the detectives knocked and a smell of marijuana struck them in the face.    He behaved in a friendly and cooperative manner, playing the nice "Uncle Al"  that so many had known.   But unlike others,  the detectives were smart enough to understand that a nice demeanor is often only a show.   He permitted the officers to conduct a security sweep of the residence which was necessary due to the extremely violent nature of the crime they were investigating.  During the sweep they noticed in plain view military type clothing like Gina had described the intruders where wearing.

Albert was the only one they discovered in the home at 4 pm on June 1st, 2009.  They left the home and requested Albert accompany them to their vehicle for an interview.   He was relaxed, likely from the marijuana, and he voluntarily complied.   The interview was recorded.

Before the interview went any further, the detective read Albert his Miranda rights.  Although they did not have enough evidence at the time to arrest him, he was a suspect in the crime so it was a necessity.   The items spotted at Albert's home and his statements provided the detective with the evidence he needed to obtain a search warrant of the home.  After it was obtained,  several items were discovered in Albert's home
  1. MAD business cards with Shawna Forde's name and number.
  2. A Winchester 12 gauge shotgun hidden in a sealed compartment in a desk
  3. numerous firearms
  4. camouflage clothing
  5. military gear
  6. the cell phone with Forde's phone number under the code word "white."
    • The text history between Forde and Gaxiola's phone was noted, including the texts which were linked to the crime and the wound Jason received. 
  7. A notebook that contained
    • a phone list that was very similar to the one in Gaxiola's phone
    • notes regarding the Flores job.
      • ‘green light Junior, 5-4-09
        • "Green light"  was the cue that it was OK to go ahead with the plan.
      • ‘black mini 30, no clip, fold-out stock
        • a mini 30 rifle was recovered from the Flores' home
      • Truck him, Hummer her,
        • the vehicles Gina and Raul drove
      • two quads, one Tony,
        • Tony was Junior's close friend.
    • Another note that was cryptic in nature, possibly related to Gaxiola's concern Raul was going to kill him.
      • Two weeks until my death already paid and hole dug,
        • a reference to a Mexican town was included.
    • Notes that indicated there were hits planned other than the Flores' job
      • Raul, Victor vindictive. Drugs. Both out, green light
        • Victor was Raul's brother.   
      • Green light 5-3, Tony, white four-wheel lifted two
Gaxiola was arrested the day of the search on a weapons charge.  He was a convicted felon and not permitted to have the firearms.   He maintained his innocence in the Arivaca murders and continued to claim the weapons recovered in his home belonged to the Minutemen who had been staying there.   He bonded out of jail the same day.

The evidence recovered at Gaxiola's house lead them to Shawna Forde.   The investigation into Shawna Forde turned up the name Jason Bush.  Things continued to fall into place until and enough evidence to arrest the trio had been obtained.   However,  no one knew where they were.  Shawna and Bush had temporarily fled to Northern California where they robbed two homes.  After leaving Northern California,  they parted ways.

 Law enforcement contacted the FBI for its assistance in locating Forde and Bush.  Bush's phone was tracked back to his home in Meadview, Arizona.  On June 11th,  investigators contacted him and he voluntarily went down to the police station.  After being lied to and told Forde was in custody and fully confessed,  Jason Bush followed suit.  He gave a full confession that included details of the crime he should not have known.   And, as part of his confession he implicated both Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola as being involved in the robbery where an innocent 9-year old girl lost her life.

Shawna was arrested the following day in Arizona not too far from the ranch of a leader of another Minutemen group.  Her arrest left only Albert Gaxiola to capture.  They used her cell phone to send a message to Gaxiola, asking him to meet "her" at a McDonald's nearby the hotel she was staying in.  Gaxiola fell for the trap and was arrested when he showed up for the meeting.

Albert Gaxiola was arrested on June 12, 2009 and was the last of the three to go to trial.  After he lost petitions for a change of venue and a change of judge,  Gaxiola's trial finally began in June, 2011.

Oin Oakstar was a convict and known liar who testified against Gaxiola, Bush, and Forde in each of their trials.   The state had to consider Oin's criminal history and reputation very carefully before deciding to use him as a witness.

Oin was a drug addict who lived in Arivaca at the time of the murders.  He had recently been released from a four-year term in prison when he met Albert Gaxiola.

Oin stated he met Gaxiola in 2008 following his release from prison.   They became partners and decided to start moving marijuana on their own.   It was at that time they decided to eliminate Raul Flores.  Their first attempt was to hit him economically but when that failed,  they decided to kill him. According to Oin,  he was supposed to shoot Raul from a distance and no harm was to come to either his wife or their children.  It was the "Arivaca rule."    Killing rival drug dealers was just a normal part of business but killing their families was forbidden.  

Using Oin as a witness was risky for the prosecution;  he was a self-proclaimed liar who was willing to make things up for his benefit.  The fact that he was benefiting from his testimony did not do anything to improve his credibility.   He was a felon who had been caught possessing weapons.  The plea deal he made with the state in exchange for his testimony was made clear to the jury.

With witnesses such as Oin Oakstar, it is imperative that other evidence can be produced to corroborate portions of their testimony.  In Oin's case, there was plenty:
  1. Oin stated Gaxiola was a drug dealer. 
    • Forde's email to the Minutemen corroborated his claim.
  2. Oin stated that he and Gaxiola had stolen marijuana form Flores in 2008 and Flores found out;  a rift began.
    • Gina Gonzales testified that Junior and Albert Gaxiola had a falling out in 2008 over marijuana; however she claimed it was because Junior discovered Gaxiola storing marijuana on his property.
    • A drug kingpin who knew both Junior and Albert admitted that Junior told him he and Gaxiola had a "beef" but would not say what it was.
  3. Oin stated that on May 28th,  the gang hit a stash house and Jason shot and killed man.
    • A text sent from Gaxiola on May 29th corroborated the claim: "Bad guys looking for crew who broke door. Dog that took blast made it. Text when arrive. O has to give Red early tour.”
  4. Oin stated that on May 29th, he went with Jason and Shawna in a teal minivan to show them the Flores' home.  He claimed he hid in the back so he would not be seen.
    • The May 29th text exchange corroborate the claim: 
      • 1:38:PM Gaxiola: .........Text when arrive. O has to give Red early tour.”
      • 1:41 pm Forde: Here now
      • 1:42 pm Gaxiola: Copy.  Sending Oh.  Get his number.
    • Gina's ICU testimony from May 31st corroborated his claim
      • She stated she saw a man and woman in a teal minivan suspiciously passing by her home on May 29th.
  5. Oin Oakstar stated he was supposed to go with Shawn, Forde, Bush, and Gaxiola to rob and take out Raul Flores.  Texts corroborated his claim
    • 14:39 hours: Forde to Gaxiola   “Oh needs a box of SK ammo and a box of triple buck shot and one box of slugs.”
    • 14:44 hours: Gaxiola to Forde   “Bag of 7.62 in ammo box by main door. Copy on slugs.”
    • 14:45 hours: Forde to Gaxiola   “10-4.”
    • 15:43 hours: Forde to Gaxiola   “O returning with me after nightfall."
  6. Oin testified that he was not a participant in the home invasion.   Gina's ICU statement and Bush' confession corroborated his claim
    • Gina informed the detectives that Oin was definitely not any of the men she saw in her home on May 30, 2009.
    • Bush only implicated Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola when he gave his confession. He did not have any reason to protect Oin over Shawna;  he had just met him two days prior to the murder.  
  7. Oin testified that he was first asked by Albert Gaxiola to take medication to the injured Bush and then he received a follow up call from Shawna when he failed to show up.  His statement was corroborated by the text history.
    • 12:17 pm Shawna:  Where’s Oh?
    • 12:26 pm Gaxiola:  520-822-4173 (Oin's phone number)
  8. Oin testified that after the call he took medication to Gaxiola's home.  He stated he saw Jason Bush lying on a bed and was covered up.  He was concerned that Jason had a gun under the blankets and might turn it on him so he dropped of the meds and did not stay that long.   On his way back home he was intercepted by police and arrested.  The times noted in the police report corroborated Oin's statement.
    • Police arrived at his home at 1:13 pm and were told he left about 45 minutes earlier.
      • Gaxiola's home was about a 10 minute walk from Oin's residence.
    • The search had already been underway when Oin was spotted returning to the home and arrested.
The jury had the ability to choose to believe everything, part, or none of Oin's testimony. They likely chose to believe only those parts that were supported by other evidence as noted.  Those parts indicated that Gaxiola, Shawna, and Bush were all involved in the plans for the home invasion that took young Brisenia's life.

Oin Oakstar was not able to maintain a clean lifestyle following his plea deal.  After violating his parole for the May 30th, 2009 weapons charge he returned to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence.  After his 2012 release from prison,  Oin continued a life of crime to support his habit.   His latest arrest was in Seattle, Washington in April 2014 for a charge of burglary.  He was homeless at the time and remained homeless until he was found dead under an overpass in Everette Washington.

At the time of his death the cause was unclear. Some of Forde's supporters suggested that his death was evidence that he was knocked off by the drug cartel who were really responsible for the Flores murders.   However, an autopsy revealed that Oin died as he lived:  using drugs.   The medical examiner's results showed that Oin Oakstar died from an overdose.


According to testimony Gina Gonzales provided, there was at least one more individual involved in the murders of her husband and child.  She testified that she heard two male voices enter the home after she was shot pretended to be dead.  The men were speaking Spanish and the one interpreted for Jason Bush. One of the men was determined to be Albert Gaxiola, who gave himself away when he stuck his head into her home and stated "oh shit!"   Jason Bush also identified him as an active participant at the scene of the crime and his DNA was discovered on the weapon that was left behind.

The unidentified man is likely a last minute replacement for Oin Oakstar, who bowed out of the job at the eleventh hour.   If so, the only man who knows his identity would be Albert Gaxiola who was believed to be one who was interpreting the man's words for Jason Bush.   Some supporters of the Arivaca three belief that the inability of investigators to capture the unidentified man was evidence that one, if not all three, were falsely convicted.  They claim this man is the true culprit.  The truth of the matter is that there were not any leads to identify him;  if there was, four people would have been tried for the murders.

During the time in the immediate post-murder investigation,  an older Hispanic man was identified and briefly considered a suspect.   He lived in a trailer on the same property as the Flores' home.  Investigators went to the trailer to ensure that there were neither victims nor suspects in it.   Although he should have, the older man who answered the door  denied any knowledge of hearing any gunfire or commotion that night.   His reluctance to get involved with the case was not unusual since it was  possible it could be drug-related given Flores' reputation as a drug dealer among the Arivaca community.

During the discussion with the man, it was noted he had blood on the back of his shirt and a cut on his forearm.   It was definitely not a gunshot wound.  The man's shirt was seized as evidence and he was briefly detained in a patrol car to be interviewed when homicide detectives arrived.  His home was searched and a Ruger handgun noted at the scene.  However, the model of the weapon did not match the ammo and cases left behind.

After he was interviewed, the man was released.  Supporters of the Arivaca three implied it was an example of the shoddy police work they claim was associated with the case.   However, there was not any grounds to hold the man; his gun did not match the evidence at the scene and he did not have any gunshot wounds.   Blood on his shirt was not enough to arrest him.  It goes without question to say that the blood was tested and did not match either the victim's DNA or the DNA on the scene.  The old Hispanic man in the trailer was not the unidentified man who participated in the attack on the Flores' home.

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