Thursday, August 4, 2016

Jason Bush: Proven Involvement, Death Penalty Appropriate?

Jason Eugene Bush was one of the three people charged with the first-degree murders of Raul Flores, Jr. and his 9-year old daughter, Brisenia.  He was also charged with the attempted murder of Brisenia's mother, Gina Gonzales, along with multiple other charges.  DNA evidence linked Jason Bush to the scene and the crime.  A trial of his blood was found leading away from the gruesome scene;  even more was detected in a vehicle linked to the crime.   Text evidence  showed Bush was shot around the same time Gina shot the intruder with a .40 caliber handgun;  Witness testimony indicated Jason showed him a .40-caliber bullet he said was taken from his gunshot wound.    The surviving victim stated a man matching Bush's description with black paint face was the shooter;  another witness stated Shawna Forde remarked she saw Jason's face painted black on the night in question.  According to the witness,  Forde not only saw his black face paint,  she made statements to indicate she was with him at the time.

 According to witness Chuck Stonex's testimony,  Shawna claimed she and Bush were together at a location three hours away from Arivaca in Douglas Arizona when Gunny (Bush) was shot.   The evidence placed Bush at the scene and verified his presence.   The text evidence  when compared with the testimony of witnesses showed Shawna admitted to being with him when he was injured.  When used in combination,  the DNA placing Bush at the crime scene when shot and the evidence (texts/ witness statements) showing Shawna was with him when he was shot link her to the Arivaca crime scene.   Additionally,  Bush confessed to murders and implicated Shawna as not only being involved;  he claimed she was the ringleader.   When he confessed,  Bush admitted to details he should not have known unless he was involved in the crime.   His confession could not be used in Shawna's trial but it was not required.   There was enough evidence to convict her without it. Their guilt was obvious.   The juries for each case thought the same  and found both Forde and Bush guilty of all charges.  They recommended the death penalty for both defendants.


Jason Bush was born on August 11, 1974 in LaGrande, Oregon to Ellen Bower and Donald Bush, Sr.   It was noted that from an early age that things were not quite right with him as compared to other children his age.   By the time he reached first grade,  it was believed he was mentally handicapped.  Ellen divorced Jason's father around the time he was ten.  Afterwards, his behavior only seemed to escalate.

Jason’s behavior had gotten so out of control. He was lighting fires in a tree house and yelling obscenities at the neighbor ladies,” she testified. “The neighbors were threatening to have him taken away by child protective services.”  Bower testimony,  Bush trial,  Ricker's Radar Screen.

 By the mid 1980's,  it was realized he was mentally ill.   Bush had been sent to live with his father who had evaluations completed.

“He was determined to not have a conscious or the ability to tell right from wrong,” - Bower testimony, Bush trial, Ricker's Radar Screen

To get her son the care she felt necessary,  Bower signed his custody over to the state.  Soon after,  Bush was admitted to a psychiatric facility due to his increasing defiant behavior.   He spent a month in the hospital and according to the records,  they did not find evidence he was mentally ill.  Bush was discharged and sent to a group home.   
 However, according to a statement Bush gave at a 1998 trial,  he was diagnosed bipolar and schizophrenic around age eleven.  A later evaluation by two separate doctors would support the claim that there was something abnormal about his brain and thought process.   Bush's 1998 statement indicated that he would often dissociate.

"For most of my life since the age of 11 or 12, I have had an experience of being outside myself, of watching another person take over my body,” Bush said in the court declaration. “I start going haywire and I don’t know what I’m doing or why. It’s like being in a daze. I don’t know why it happens and it scares me. It’s like someone else crawls under my skin. It is very frustrating.”  -- Green Valley News.

BUSH BACKGROUND:  Earlier Crimes
First Felony Charges
Bush continued to have troubles with the law into adulthood.  It was unknown if he was a just a bad man or if mental illness played a part.   His behavior earned him his first two felony charges at age 19 in Crowley county.    Bush was charged with an attempt to flee from custody and taking drugs into a correction facility.   The charges also included signs of a growing violent nature;  he was charged with an act of physical violence against a law enforcement officer.

(records obtained from "this Ain't Hell"  website)

Jason Bush's 1994 convictions involved drugs and earned him the status of a felon and a three year probation sentence.   Bush gained two more felonies by January of 1997 for writing two bad checks in Kootanai County Idaho,  over 1000 miles NW of his prior conviction in Crowley county.

Bush wrote the first bad check just a couple of months after his probation for his 1994 charge ended.  Despite his probation still being in effect for the check charges,  Bush relocated out of state to Wenatchee, Washington.   On July 24, 1997,  a Mexican homeless man named Hector Lopez Patrida was murdered in the area.  An investigation of the case would turn up DNA,  but a match could not be found.  The case soon turned cold until after Bush was arrested for the Arivaca murders.

The DNA was matched to Jason Bush and after his arrest an informant came forward with information about Lopez's murder.   According to the informant, he and Jason had been walking when they came across Lopez who was sleeping in a parking lot.  The informant stated that Bush dropped a heavy item on the man and then started stabbing him.  While Bush stabbed the man,  the informant participated in the assault and kicked him.  Hector got up and ran from the scene only to collapse later where a good samaritan found him and called 911.   Hector was transported to an area hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

According to the informant,  Bush showed no remorse after the crime.  He expressed he was hungry and they went to a diner where Bush consumed his meal in a normal fashion.  He still had the homeless man's blood on his pants.  

Bush's murder of the homeless man appeared to have a racially based motivation.  At the time of the murders,  both Jason and the informant belonged to the Aryan Nation;  Jason's ties to white supremacy is supported by a tattoo of "White Power"  he bears.  According to the defendant,  both he and Bush put yellow laces in their boots after the murder of Lopez.   The laces signified the wearer had killed somebody and was a badge of honor among the Aryan brotherhood.


According to witnesses,  Bush believed his murder of Lopez was a positive act.  They reported he carried around a news article about the murder, would show it to people,  and claim he was the one to kill the man. One of the people he bragged to was Jonathon Bumstead.   Two months after informing Bumstead of the murder,   Jason shot and killed him.   According to what Bush told some witnesses,  he murdered Bumstead because members of the Aryan Nation put a contract on his life for being a race traitor.   One of the men who witnessed the murder believed it was  thrill killing.


After he killed Bumstead,  Bush continued to violently act out.  On December 5th, 1997,  he showed up at the home of Ginny Gamble and asked to use her shower.  Bush was covered in blood but it was not his own.  He had no injury to his body.  Gamble granted him permission to use the shower.

"On the way she noticed Bush had dried blood on his hands, his neck, his face and his hair," the report says."  -- Arizona Daily Star

It was never determined where the blood on Bush came from;  it was only known that it was not his own.  Later that evening,  Bush was arrested for an unrelated charge.   He was eventually convicted and spent several years in jail,  finally getting out in 2003.


Jason Bush had been identified as having links to White Supremacy organizations such as the Aryan Nation.  The beliefs of the Aryan Nation are that the white race was the superior race and the United States belonged to them.   According to the doctrine of the Aryan brotherhood,  "Anglo-Saxons, not Jews, are the Biblical "chosen people," that non-whites are "mud people" on the level of animals, and that Jews are "children of Satan."   Jason Bush held the same beliefs,  identified himself as "white",  and was so proud of it he tattooed the words "White Power" on his body.

Bush and other members of the Aryan Nation believed the influx of other races into the USA risked turning the "white society" as they knew it into a third-world society.   They saw anyone of color or  different ethnicity as being a lesser race.  They didn't necessarily hate people of color as long as they stayed out of the United States.  It was non-white people entering the US, especially those here illegally, that bore the brunt of their anger.

"Does not support the program of Race-Mixing which is being promoted and pushed by schools, churches, media, and humanist groups around the country degenerating the White Race into a Third (TURD) World society."  -  Stormfront White supremacy group website.

The views of non-white people of a different ethnic background "dirtying" up the US society was a view some Minutemen appeared to have as well.   Shawna Forde had uttered some words that were very similar to those expressed by Stormfront.  Her words indicated she had similar feelings regarding Mexican immigrants who had infiltrated US soil. Per her words,  she felt they were taking over the USA and their beliefs and culture were beneath that of US citizens.   They did not "deserve" to be here.

We're not a third world country.   We're not getting people, scientists, lawyers, and doctors here, OK?  We're getting the poorest of the poor.  We're getting third world values into a first-rate country which is dropping all of our rates way down."  Shawna Forde, documentary,  2008

"you will walk out your door and think you were just transplanted into Mexico."  Shawna Forde,  May 20th,  border report,  MAD website, Published: Sunday, June 14, 2009, 12:01 a.m.

I was in the mall one day and, hey, nobody's speaking English. I realized we had a serious problem. I just got tired of pushing 1 for English [on the phone]. I decided to do something about it." Shawna Forde,  Minutemen Summit with Gilchrist,  The Everette Elks Lodge, 2007.


Marriage and  a Move

After his release from prison in 2003,  Bush eventually returned to Idaho.   He met a woman named Decolia Cox in 2006.  They soon became a couple.  Eventually,  Bush suffered an injury to his head which prevented him from working.   According to Cox's testimony,  Bush would have repeated seizures.  His injury and her father's failing  health lead them to move to her father's farm in Waco, Texas.

Cox and Bush married on April 1st, 2008, but it was short-lived.   They separated in August in 2008; around the same time of their separation a "non-Hispanic" Jason Bush born on August 11, 1974 was arrested in McClennan County,  Waco Texas on August 20, 2008 for a violent crime.   On the legal record,  they listed Jason Bush's eyes as green.  However, there are far too many other similarities for the it to not be the same man who was charged with another crime of violence.

The attack on the family member was so concerning that the original charge was a second-degree felony.  It is unknown who the family member was,  but due to the timing of the separation it is likely the cause of the break-up.  Further support that the man in the document is the same Jason Bush can be found per the testimony of Cox's father.  He testified that Jason displayed signs of a quick and violent nature when his medication started to wear off:

 He became angry, quite easily, when his medication was wearing off,” he said. “One time there was some problem with the television. He cut the cord with a pair of scissors while it was plugged in and he threw it through the window of the trailer. Another time he got upset with the kids and he threw the aquarium, with the fish and everything, out the other side of the trailer.”  Bush trial,  Cox testimony,  Ricker's Rader Screen.

Jason Bush,  Minutemen, and  MAD

It is not clear as to when Jason Bush joined the Minutemen Movement,  but it was sometime between his release from jail in 2003 and 2008.  It is also not clear as to the exact date or how Jason Bush became associated with MAD.  Some information suggests he was referred to her; others suggest he responded to Shawna's request for recruits.  When they met,  Shawna was immediately impressed with him.  He alleged to have a strong military background and held the same beliefs about using more aggressive tactics during border patrols that she had.   It is not known if Shawna attempted to check out Jason Bush's background;  If she did she would have seen his military claims were not true and he had a criminal past.

 In an interview following her conviction,  Shawna claimed she couldn't say sorry to the victim because she didn't play a part in the death of her child.  She maintained her innocence;  But, if it were true, she still would have played a part in the death of the child.  Shawna was the one who put Jason Bush on her team;  She was the one who allowed a man with a violent past to take a leadership role in her organization; and she was the one who brought Jason Bush to Arivaca.   An innocent person who truly cared would have recognized what part her negligence played in the death of 9 year old Brisenia.  Instead, Shawna said "People shouldn't sell drugs if they have kids."

Shawna quickly promoted Jason Bush to her director of operations;  the number two slot in her group.  She introduced him on her website with lots of praise. 

"We are honored to have Gunny aboard. He served 6 tours over seas, where he has several medals. He received a Purple heart, Silver and Bronze star, Combat Infantry Badge and a Presidential citation for his actions in the Special Forces."

A group promising vigilante activities towards Mexicans crossing the border would have been very attractive to a man with a "White Power" tattoo who had killed others based on their race.   As a convicted felon, drug user, and with his history of violence and other crimes it was not a desire to keep America free from drugs and criminals that drew him towards the Minutemen movement and groups like MAD.

Some supporters claim that Shawna did do background checks on members applying to MAD.   According to one supporter,  Shawna's own brother did not fit the bill because of his criminal past:

At one time, Merrill indicated interest in M.A.D., but he was rejected after a background check turned up a conviction for domestic violence. and it was discovered that he's been selling dope -- Shawna Forde support site

If domestic violence and selling dope were eliminating factors,  then why did Shawna have people with those types of backgrounds in her group?   She either didn't do background checks, which given the nature of what they were doing was negligent, or she didn't care.

Shawna had a problem recruiting others for her group.  According to one member, despite Shawna's claim that there were 100's of MAD members across the USA, there was only about 15 members in the organization.   Many Minutemen thought Shawna's ideas were too radical;.   Shawna disagreed. Out of the people that she recruited, at least three of them had criminal pasts, and some were currently active in the drug trade.

Jason Bush:

  • Drugs into a correctional facilty
  • attempted escape
  • battery on a police officer
  • two felony check charges
  • bodily injury upon a family member
Albert Gaxiola
  • Spent time in prison for drug trafficking
  • Active known drug dealer
    • he is the man from Shawna's email where she described meeting a drug dealer and doing coke with him to gain his trust.
  • felon in possession of a firearm
    • his DNA was found on the AK47
Thomas Gibler
  • 14 felonies
  • was on the local watch list as a violent offender.
The men in Shawna's group were the kind she could depend upon to take more aggressive actions towards Mexican people crossing the border. She thought many of the current Minutemen organizations to be too passive.  And, she was not shy about making her aggressive tactics known.

"What we want to do is to start knocking them out......... I’m the person that is willing to take it to the next level and that scares a lot of people." - Shawna Forde, recording of phone call from June 2, 2009,  just three days after the murders 

Jason Bush had posted a similar statement on the MAD website prior to the murders:

BUSH BACKGROUND: Months Prior to the Murders


After his separation from Cox,  Bush moved to Meadview, Arizona where he started working at the Grand Canyon Skywalk as a maintenance man.  It was there that he met Melinda Williams (Shelton) who was a ticket salesperson.  The two soon became romantically involved and Williams left her husband for Bush.   Jason told Melinda the same lies about his military past that he had been using for years.  

When Jason moved to Meadview,  he was in violation of his parole for the August 20th assault charge.  In early 2009 his employer at the Skywalk found out about the probation violation and fired him.   At the time,  he and Williams had been sharing a home.   The discovery of his probation violation meant that the authorities knew his location, could soon track him down, and put him in jail.  He had to get out of town.


On May 26 2009,  Williams came home to a surprise.   Bush informed her he was leaving to re-enlist in the military.

 “He said he was re-enlisting,” she said. “I came home from work one night and he said he was leaving today. He said somebody was going to pick him up.”  Testimony,  Bush's trial,  Ricker's Radar Screen

The person who came to pick up Bush from his Meadview home was Shawna Forde.  It was the first time Williams had met her.  

"It was around 11 o’clock that night,” she testified. “Jason said this is Shawna.” Williams had never met her before that night. Williams described Forde as blond, sort of chunky and blue eyes. “They are as blue as mine,” she said.  -- Testimony,  Forde's trial,  Ricker's Radar Screen.

Shawna was present for Williams tear-filled goodbye to Bush.  They left William's home with her thinking Jason was rejoining the army. They knew the true destination was Arivaca to participate in the robberies Shawna Forde described in an earlier recruitment meeting that was attended by two FBI informants.

After leaving Meadview,  Jason Bush arrived in Arivaca.   According to Oin Oakstar,  he met Jason Bush for the first time just days prior to the Arivaca murders.  According to Oakstar,  Forde and her crew stated they had killed a man on May 28th during a robbery.  Although no body was every found,  a text sent by Gaxiola to Forde supports the claim:

5/29 1:38 PM: Gaxiola to Forde  “Bad guys looking for crew who broke door. Dog that took blast made it. Text when arrive. O has to give Red early tour.”

Given the nature of the targets Shawna had in mind,  a lack of a body would not be an unusual finding as robberies of drug dealers are usually not reported.  If the home was a stash house, it likely had connections to the Mexican cartel who would have handled it in their own way.

"Bad guys looking for crew who broke door"

Oin Oakstar  testified that in the afternoon of May 29th, 2009 he, Shawna Forde, and Jason Bush drove by the Flores' home.  He was giving them a tour of the site they would be hitting.  According to Oin,  Bush and Forde were in front while he ducked down in the back.  He was concerned the Flores' would recognize him if they saw him in the van.   A series of texts between Gaxiola and Forde's phone corroborated Oin's claim.

  • 1:38 PM: Gaxiola:  “Bad guys looking for crew who broke door. Dog that took blast made it. 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.
    • Gaxiola was sending Oin out to take Bush and Forde to Flores' home.
  • 1:13  Gaxiola to Forde:  Have Oh call
    • Oin took Bush and Forde to the home and was still with them.

Oin's testomony regarding the drive-by was also corroborated by Gina Gonzales who saw the van drive by her home in the afternoon of May 29th, 2009.  She had been in the yard searching for her keys at the time.  The van caught her eye because it was one she had not noticed before.   Inside she saw a man and woman, and waved.

A similar minivan was seen in the background of video filmed of a MAD border watch:

After driving by the Flores' home,  a discussion occurred between Forde's and Gaxiola's phone regarding ammo that was needed for the heist.  The texts matched Oin's claim that he was supposed to participate in the heist
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:   “Bag of 7.62 in ammo box by main door. Copy on slugs.”
2:45 PM: Forde:   “10-4.
3:43 pm: Forde to Gaxiola   “O returning with me after nightfall.

According to Oakstar,  he backed out of the job.  His presence at the crime scene is unknown, although when Bush later confessed he did not implicate him when he implicated Albert Gaxiola.  Gina's testimony along with evidence placed Bush at the scene and as the shooter.


Shortly after midnight on May 30th, 2009 there was a knock on Gina's door.   Her husband answered it and a man and woman identified themselves as border patrol looking for escaped fugitives.   When Flores asked to be allowed to get dressed prior to letting them in,  the woman threatened to shoot him if he did not allow them in immediately.  

Gina's description of the tall male matched Jason Bush.  She described him as a tall white man,  face painted black, about  6'4", and around 300 lbs.   He was around 35-50 years old and had a balding or receding hairline.   The description fit Jason Bush at the time.   He had lost weight after spending almost two years in jail and dropped to 200 lbs.  Jason's 2011 prison photo compared to his 2009 jail photo show a much thinner-faced/ neck Bush in the prison photo.  He does not look quite 300 lbs but the description was per Gina's assessment.  

According to Gina,  after the intruders cam in she and Flores were directed to sit down on the couch.  Flores began to question the authenticity of the law enforcement claim.  Jason Bush responded and shot Flores.

""Don't take this personal, but this bullet has your name on it."

Raul responded and attacked Jason Bush to try to disarm him.   Jason was bigger and stronger and overpowered him.  He shot Flores repeatedly.   Gina jumped up and Bush turned the gun on her.  He shot her twice and she fell down and played dead.  Bush's final victim was 9-year old Brisenia.  She woke to the gunshots and asked why Jason shot her mom and dad.   She pleaded with him to not shoot her. He told her she didn't have to be afraid and he wasn't going to just before he shot her twice in the face at point-blank range.

During the violence,  Gina lay on the floor, both terrified and horrified.  She heard them going through her things and it sounded like the woman was in the back.  After Brisenia was shot, the woman indicated that they needed to leave.   Gina stated she overheard her say "There's nothing here. We hit the wrong house."   The money, drugs, and guns they were looking for were not there.   Raul was a drug dealer,  but he didn't keep the items in his family home.

The intruders left and Gina grabbed the phone and checked on Brisenia.  She knew things were not good.  Remembering the gun in the kitchen, she hobbled to it and grabbed it.  Her leg snapped and she collapsed on the kitchen floor, gun in one hand, phone in the other.   Gina dialed 911 and reported the crime.   While on the phone,  a woman ran back in.   She saw Gina and said "Oh shit."   Then she directed Bush to come back into the home and finish Gina off.

When Bush returned,  a gunfight ensued.  Gina Gonzales fired back and struck Jason Bush twice:  once in the leg and once in his vest.  The shock of the shot caused him to flee the scene.  As he did, he left behind a trail of blood to the road. Jason Bush and Shawna Forde sped off in the teal minvan.   A third person, Albert Gaxiola,  sped off in his girlfriend's car but either he or a fourth unidentified man hung close by to keep an eye on the scene.  

The intruders took a box of Gina's jewelry with her but left items behind at the scene.   According to Oin Oakstar,  it was due to one or both of these items that Shawna Forde returned to the home after fleeing the first time.  Two guns,  an AK47 and a pearl handled revolver remained behind after the intruders fled.  The AK47 was found on the stove and it had Albert Gaxiola's DNA on it.  The pearl handled revolver was discovered by the fence line of the Flores' home and it had both DNA and a print on it associated with Shawna Forde.  (source, testimony, Gaxiola's trial)

It took police about 20 minutes to arrive at Gina's home.  The closest law enforcement was 30 miles away and the roads to reach the Flores' home were dark and twisting, making them hazardous to travel at night going a high rate of speed.     While Gina waited,  she pleaded with the operator to make help hurry.  She was in extreme pain and terrified.  "I can't believe they killed my family,"  she exclaimed.   Around 1:10,  help finally arrived on the scene and the investigation begun.

  • 1:10 am Pima Co Law Enforcment arrive at the crime scene.
    • During their investigation,  they find a trail of blood leading from the Flores' home to the road.   It is sent off for DNA testing.  
  • 1:33 am TEXT: Gaxiola to Forde:  Cops on scene. Lay low
    • Gaxiola is updating Forde;  he either stayed behind or left the unidentified fourth man behind as the look out
  • 1:58 am TEXT: Forde to Gaxiola: No worries. All good. Just relax. Competition gone
    • A 9-re old child had just been executed and Forde showed no concern.
    • Later texts when compared with witness testimony show Forde had the phone in her possession.
  • 0208 am TEXT: Forde “How do we turn camera on in bedroom?
    • Jason Bush injured and in pain;  his concern in his leg.  Shawna's is keeping an eye out for any law enforcement or retaliation.  She was concerned that the gunfight attracted witnesses to the scene.
  • 0210 am TEXT: Gaxiola “Press input button on TV.
  • 0213 am TEXT: Forde “TV controller? What color?”
  • 0215 am Gaxiola “Gray. Press TV. Press input. Input 1.”
  • 0218  am Gaxiola “Copy. Sweet dreams. Out
  • 02:41 am Forde:  Can u stop and get a few rolls gauze and compress bandages? Big ones at a 24 hour store.”
    • Bush was shot, he needs medical care.  
  • 02:43 am Gaxiola:  Use towels. Anything you need. Car dead on side of road.”
    • The car broke down,  Gaxiola can not provide the items needed for medical care
  • 02:46 am Forde: “We’re on it. No worries. Are you going to be okay? Someone coming to get you?”
  • 02:47 am Gaxiola: “Have AAA enroute.”
  • 6:15 am Forde's phone: “What is ur eta? This is Red.”
    • Bush's introduction of himself when using Forde's phone in the morning indicates he was not the one who was using it prior;  it was Forde as she was the only other person with him at the time.  Her involvement in the crime is confirmed later when Bush confesses.
  • 07:45 am Gaxiola: Had to sleep. Car alternator bad. When are you coming this way?”
    • Later,   a neighbor would provide corroboration to show that Gaxiola was having car trouble around the time.  However,  her statements would not be able to accurately show the time she overheard the car trouble.
  • 07:45 am Forde: “Dude, Red cannot be moved. Where are you?
    • Shawna's reluctance to move Bush will be noted later when she makes a call to have someone come to her to assist with treating his wound.  The call shows Shawna was the one in possession of the phone as it matched the earlier attempts to get bandages. 
    • When assistance arrived later,  Bush was the one who was injured; no one else but Shawna was present.  
      • if a third party was involved, Shawna would not have had to call Stonex to drive 2 hours to provide medical supplies.   
  • 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.
  • 08:00 am - Shawna calls Chuck Stonex.  She informs him that one of her men was injured the night before and asks him to bring her a med kit.  Stonex agrees but informs her it would be after a barbecue in Hereford,  2.5 hours away from her location.   
  • 08:00 - 12:00 Gaxiola needs to use his g/f 's cell phone.  He calls Shawna to provide her with a the number so she can get in touch with him.  The first text exchanged with the new phone is from Shawna.
    •  He also makes her aware that he got in touch with Oin Oakstar and that he is going to be bringing some painkillers for Bush.  Oin fails to follow through.  Oakstar would later testify about the calls from Gaxiola and Forde;  his testimony is corroborated by the cell phone messages sent from Shawna's phone.
  • 12:17 pm  Forde to Gaxiola (per his g/f phone):  Where’s Oh? (Oh = Oakstar)
    • Oakstar failed to show up and Bush needs his painkillers.
    • according to the context,  a phone call likely occurred and Oin's contact information is asked to be texted to Shawna.
  • 12:26 pm  Gaxiola:  520-822-4173 (Oakstar's number)
    • Oin Oakstar testified that Shawna called him after he failed to show up when Gaxiola asked.  This testimony is corroborated by the text.
    • Oin testified that he delivered the medication to a house;  he stated Bush was injured at the time.  Chuck Stonex's testimony corroborates Oin's testimony that Shawna and Bush were together following his shooting. 
  • 1:54 pm: Forde to Gaxiola:   “Hey bro saw the news everything is good.
    • Everything was good because the news did not share anything about Shawna, Bush, Oin, or Gaxiola being suspects in the crime. 
  • 2:02 pm Forde to Gaxiola:  Can you bring my car? Will be better for now.”
    • Gina saw the minivan.  Gina did not die;  Shawna needs to distance herself from the minivan but her car is in Tucson.  
    • Witness' testimony regarding the car situation puts the cell phone in Forde's possession.
  • 4:42 pm Gaxiola to Forde: Send keys up. I’ll take your car down.
    • Shawna's car is in Tucson where she was supposed to meet following the robbery.  Bush got shot and it changed her plans. 
  • 4:44 pm Forde to Gaxiola:  IG&T people on the way here. I’ll send them keys. It will be late
    • Chuck Stonex and Laine Lawless were on their way there.  Stonex told Shawna it would be late.  The text matches Stonex's testimony about the 8 am phone call.  
    • Witness testimony indicated Shawna gave the keys to Laine Lawless.
    • Laine Lawless' told investigators that Shawna gave her a set of keys to take to an Albert.  She later claimed that it was not Gaxiola, but a different Albert. 
      • There are too many links between the context in the texts, the phone calls, and witness testimony for it not to have been Gaxiola.
  • 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”
    • The context of the car being broke down, Forde needing her keys, someone bringing them to Gaxiola,  and witness testimony all shows Forde's cell phone was in her possession.
  • 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.”
    • The text shows they had more targets planned 
  • 7:04 pm Forde: Where to u want the keys dropped? Can get them dropped by 10.”
    • Testimony per Chuck Stonex indicated he saw Forde give Laine Lawless the keys.   The earlier statement that someone from IG & T supports the phone was in Forde's possession.
  • 7:07 pm Gaxiola:  “Pima and Craycroft. Have them call when arrive. Will meet. Gina.”
    • Gaxiola left the automatic message identifier on on his G/F's phone.
  • 7:08 pm Forde: Who is Gina?
  • 7:15 pm Gaxiola: Pima Craycroft. Have them call when arrive. Will meet.”
  • 9:28 pm Forde: We told the woman you are a minuteman. Red is patched up.”
    • Chuck Stonex testified that Bush was the one he patched up.  Bush is Red.
    • Chuck Stonex testified that he saw Forde give Laine keys and a paper.  The action matches the context of the earlier text and shows Shawna had the phone in her possession and was helping the hurt Bush.
  • 10:29 pm: Gaxiola: Red is good then? Have a could night see you tomorrow.
  • 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.
    • Shawna has to remind Gaxiola to say he is one of her Minutemen.  She does not want Laine to find out that he the very thing Laine was fighting against - a drug dealer who was selling drugs brought up from Mexico into the states.   
The next day,  Bush is feeling better but still in need for more bandages.   He requests that Gaxiola bring them down when he dropped off Shawna's car.
  • 12:16 Bush per Forde phone:  Hey bro. I’m feeling top notch. Can you get some big compress bandages? Thx.”
  • 12:17 pm Gaxiola: You got it Red. See u soon.”
Jason Bush and Shawna Forde soon leave town. On May 31st, Chuck Stonex meets them at a hotel in Tucson, at  I-19 and Ajo Way.   Forde informs Stonex that she had obtained a prescription to treat Bush's wound.  Bush shows Stonex a 40 caliber hollow-point bullet he claims came from his leg wound.   The gun Gina Gonzales was shooting was a 40-caliber.

The next day,  June 1st,  a tip from a witness and the survivor lead detectives to the home of Albert Gaxiola.  They spot the a teal minivan which matched the suspicious vehicle from Gina's statement.  They notice a blood stain on the outside of the van and when they peer in,  they can see more on the inside.   The discovery allows them to obtain a search warrant.  Inside of Gaxiola's home,  they find military clothing bearing the name "Bush."   They also find weapons and cards with Shawna Forde's name on it.   Gaxiola explains that he had been out of town and while gone,  Shawna and her Minutemen group had been staying in his home.  He claims the teal minivan belongs to Shawna Forde and identifies her as the driver.  Gaxiola is arrested on weapon's charges but later bonds out.

Investigators follow up on the leads from Gaxiola's home and start to check out Shawna Forde.  They soon discover that she is on the FBI watch list due to her extreme views as to the need to address border jumpers with more aggression.  When they contact the FBI,  they learn that two FBI informants had attended a meeting where Forde was recruiting men to do home invasions and rob drug dealers.

On June 2nd, 2009  one of the FBI informants called Shawna Forde.  The phone call was recorded and played for the court.   During the call,  Shawna informed the informant that one of her guys, Jason Bush, had been wounded.

Informant:  Holy shit,  when did that happen?

Shawna:  In the leg,  I think it was, what, Saturday morning.  

The recorded phone call along with Chuck Stonex's testimony helped to show that Shawna Forde was the one using her cell phone to seek help for Jason Bush following his injury.   Additional testimony from Chuck Stonex indicated Shawna told him she was with Jason Bush when he was shot, but claimed it was at a location three hours away from the crime scene in Douglas, Arizona.  Jason Bush's blood at the crime scene showed Shawna was lying about where they were when he was shot. Chuck Stonex shared further statements made by Shawna Forde which helped support that she was with him when he was shot and the shooting occurred at the Flores' home.   According to Chuck Stonex,  Shawna told him that during the operation which lead to his shooting,  Bush had his face painted black.  According to the surviving victim,  the man who shot her had his face painted black.


While investigators were following up on the new found information,  Shawna and Jason were on their way out of Tucson.   Jason Bush had recovered enough to make a 15-hour, 1000 mile trip to Northern California.   After their arrests,  their cell phones were tracked to the area.   Further investigation showed that Bush and Forde checked into the Alamo Motel in Cottonwood, California on June 6th, 2009.  Employees that were interviewed claimed Bush and Forde had been in search of a crowbar to assist them with breaking into a safe.

Jason Bush was also well enough to participate in two robberies while in Northern California.  Two days after the duo arrived in Cottonwood,  a neighbor of Shawna's biological mother had her home robbed at gunpoint in the town of Redding, about 18 miles away from the Alamo motel.   She recently inherited 12,000 and was keeping it in her home.   According to the victim, the intruder used a U.S. Marshal Service badge to gain access.  The robbery of the home started out similar to that of the Flores' home where the intruders claimed to be law enforcement to gain access.  A U.S. Marshal Service badge would be found in Jason's possession after his arrest for the Arivaca murders. The robbery victim later identified Jason Bush as the one who robbed her home

According to the investigation,  evidence suggested Shawna Forde was aware of the money that the neighbor had in her home.   The neighbor claimed that in April, she visited Shawna's biological mother while Shawna was there.  The conversation turned to an inheritance she had been given and her plans to keep it in her home.  Both the neighbor and Shawna's biological mother alleged Shawna was in earshot at the time.   Shawna's mother claimed that Shawna called her one day after the Arivaca murders occurred and asked her for her neighbor's address.

While Shawna and Bush were still in the area, a second robbery occurred at a home of someone associated with Shawna.   Shawna's 1/2 brother's home was burglarized,  and a safe stolen.   Coincidentally, the employees of the Alamo alleged Shawna and Jason asked them for a crowbar to break into a safe.
Jason Bush and Shawna Forde checked out of the Alamo motel in Cottonwood on June 9th, 2008.   Jason Bush returned to his girlfriend's home in Meadview in the very early hours of June 10th, 2009.  Forde dropped Jason off but didn't want to be seen.

“I heard a knock on the door,” Williams testified. “He said he received a ride and they had turned the lights off so as not to wake me up.”  - source,  William's testimony, Ricker's Radar screen.


While Bush and Forde were in California,  Pima county law enforcement was working hard to locate them.  They once again turned to the FBI.  The FBI used their cell phone tracking technology and it lead them to Meadview Arizona.  Investigators tracked Jason Bush to his girlfriend's home and noted that he was limping.  His injury convinced them they were on the right track.  Bush was asked to go to the Mohave county sheriff's department and he complied.

When Jason Bush arrived, he was arrested, and read his rights.

Detective Juan Carlos Navarro lied to Jason Bush and told him they had Shawna Forde in custody. He told him that she had already confessed but they wanted to hear his side of the story.
 Bush believed them.  In a two-hour long recording, he explained his role in the murder and implicated both Gaxiola and Forde.   Jason's confession included details of the crime that he could not have known unless he was involved:
  • He stated that he was taken by a person known to him as Oin in the teal mini van,” he testified. “The purpose was to show Shawna Forde and him the residence that they were going to.” - Detective Navarro testimony, Bush trial,  Ricker's Radar Screen
    • Jason could not know about the teal minivan unless he was involved.
  • Bush initially attempted to reduce his involvement in the crime:  "He stated that him (sic) went to the residence of the victims with Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola but that he remained outside and he later heard shots from inside of the home and didn’t know what had happened. He eventually ended up going to the doorway and that’s when he got shot.”  -- Det. Navarro testmony, Bush trial,  Ricker's Radar Screen
    • he could not have known Gaxiola was there unless he was involved.
    • After he was informed that they knew he was inside, he admitted to going in. 
  • According to Det. Navarro's testimony,  Bush informed him that they pretended to be Border Patrol.  
    • He could not have known the intruders pretended to be border patrol unless he was involved.
  • Bush also knew the sequence of the shootings;  it was something that had not been released prior to his confession.  "He stated that when Shawna Forde and him (sic) made entry to the home that he shot the father first, the mother second and finally that he had shot the 9-year-old girl.” -- Detective Navarro's testimony, Bush trial, Ricker's Radar Screen.
    • he could not know the order the victims were shot unless he was involved
  • Detective Navarro also stated that during his confession,  Bush correctly identified the types of guns used in the crime.  "He stated that he was armed with a .45 cal. handgun and that Ms. Forde was armed with a .357 revolver,” Det. Navarro's testimony,  Bush trial, Ricker's Radar Screen.
    •   Multiple .45 cal rounds were recovered from the crime scene as well as a .357 revolver.  The details were not publicly known.
    • he could not know the type of guns used unless he was involved.
During his confession,  Jason claimed that he believed the invasion was only supposed to be a robbery.  He claimed that when they arrived at the home,  both Shawna and Gaxiola told him  there was not to be any witnesses left behind.   According to Bush,  he did not want to shoot the little girl but felt his life would be in jeopardy if he did not follow through with Shawna's wishes.   Detectives would later claim Jason Bush appeared disturbed and bothered about the death of the little girl.  He would later recant his confession,  but it was too late.  He had already demonstrated he knew details of the crime that he should not have.  Recanting could not erase that fact.

Jason's confession along with witness' statements made it clear they had the right man.  When the DNA returned to show the blood trail leading away from the scene belonged  to Jason Bush, they knew they had the right man.  The added injury to his leg, the victim's description,  and testimony about his black face pain did not leave any room for doubt that Jason Bush was the man who shot a 9-year old girl twice in the face at point-blank range.   

After Jason was arrested,   police decided to arrest Shawna Forde.  They could not use his confession against her but they had enough other evidence to do so.   When she was arrested,  Shawna denied any involvement in the crime and claimed she didn't even know where Arivaca was despite calling Chuck Stonex to the area to treat Bush's wound.

Jason and Shawna's arrest left one suspect still at large:  Albert Gaxiola.   Investigators had lost track of him;  they used Shawna's cell phone to lure him in by sending a text for him to meet her at a McDonald's close by her hotel.   Gaxiola complied and was taken into custody.

Shawna Forde was tried first.  The law did not permit details of Bush's confession to be used against her during her trial.   If the information was to be heard,  Bush would have had to testify against her.  If he had agreed to do so,  he may had been able to save his life and avoid the death penalty.  However,  he was either talked out of it or never give  the opportunity.   

Forde was found guilty of two accounts of first-degree murder without Bush's testimony.  Bush's trial followed Shawna's.  There was plenty of information which implicated him:
  • He fit Gina's description of the shooter.
  • Gina testified the intruder's face was painted black on the night of the murder;  Chuck Stonex testified that Shawna said Bush's face was painted black on the same night.
  • Gina shot at the intruder;  blood at the scene indicated she hit him.   Texts indicated Jason Bush was shot on the same night.  Testimony from Chuck Stonex indicated that Jason Bush was shot on the same night.   In a recorded phone call,  Shawna stated that Bush was shot on the same day that the murders occurred. 
  • Gina Gonzales had used a .45 to shoot Jason Bush;  Jason Bush showed Chuck Stonex a .45-caliber bullet that he claimed came from his leg wound. 
  • Gina testified that she saw a man and woman driving a teal minivan pass by her home the afternoon before the murders.   Oin Oakstar claimed that he had been hiding in the van and Shawna and Jason Bush were in the front.  Chuck Stonex identified Shawna as driving a teal minivan when she met him to lead him to Bush's location.  
  • Blood from the intruder was found on the scene;  the DNA identified the blood to be that of Jason Bush.   
  • Blood was discovered in the teal minivan associated with the crime;  DNA identified the blood to be Jason Bush's.
  • Jason Bush confessed to the murders and knew details of the crime he should not have known.  
Jason Bush's attorneys took an unconventional approach to his case.  They feared if they tried to present evidence that he was innocent,  it would have likely prejudiced the jury when it came time to the sentencing phase.   The case simply was too damning against him and didn't leave any room for doubt.

Bush's attorneys did not argue his innocence;  there was not a strong case they could present to explain away all the evidence that indicated he was at the scene and the trigger man
  • Why did his injury occurred on the same night Gina shot the intruder?
  • Why did the blood the intruder leave at the scene match Jason Bush's DNA?
  • Why did Gina's description of the shooter match Jason Bush, right down to his black face paint? 
  • Why was Jason Bush's blood found at the scene of the crime and in a vehicle related to the crime? 
Bush's attorneys decided to focus on saving him from the death penalty.  It could have been an easier task if Bush had tried to bargain with the Pima County prosecutor to drop the death penalty in exchange for his testimony against Shawna Forde.  But, he did not.   Bush's attorneys focused on the penalty phase of the trial and the mitigating factors they claimed should spare his life.  Primarily, his claim involved the state of Bush's mental health.  He pointed out the Bush had mental problems which were noted early on and resulted in multiple run-ins with the law.  A medical doctor was presented who performed an EEG on Bush's brain and concluded it was "very deviant", or far from normal.

The defense presented another expert, Dr. Marc Walter, who diagnosed  Bush as a paranoid schizophrenic; the claim was supported by a statement Bush made years earlier during a court case in 1998:

For most of my life since the age of 11 or 12, I have had an experience of being outside myself, of watching another person take over my body,” Bush said in the court declaration. “I start going haywire and I don’t know what I’m doing or why. It’s like being in a daze. I don’t know why it happens and it scares me. It’s like someone else crawls under my skin. It is very frustrating.”

Bush's mental status was the strongest mitigating factor the defense had so they turned to the Bible and introduced quotes:
It hath been told thee ole man what is good and what God requires of you to do justice and to love mercy,” he said. “This is an evolution 500 years later. Then in Leviticus it says thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. That is the ultimate definition of justice that is in the Old Testament.”

Justice is no longer conditional love as it is in the Old Testament. It hath been told me that you have heard that it was said an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, but I say to you do not resist him who is evil, if he slaps you on the right cheek turn to him the other. Wow, that’s an awfully new idea.”   Rick's Radar Screen

Then the defense's argument turned from defensive to offensive.  He implied that the victims in the case fell into a lessor category of those whose deaths were not worthy of the death penalty.  He brought up Raul's history of drug dealing, the weapons in the home,  and Gina's familiarity with the gun enough to be able to use it to save her life.  The attorney's attempt at lowering the worth of the victims eliminated any chance anyone of the jury would consider Bush's mental health status as a mitigating factor to save his life.   The attorneys representing a client who act badly can aide in reducing their client's likability.

"She knew enough to take that .40 caliber weapon, pull back the slide, undo the safety and shoot at somebody.”  - Ricker's Radar Screen

The prosecution was shocked at the defense attorney's implication.

"It’s astonishing and offensive that a defense attorney would stand up here and say that they are not worthy of having the law applied equally to them,” he said. “When someone commits a crime like this, when someone can do to a 9-year-old what this man did unless you find something significant, unless you find something substantial that would mitigate somehow what he did then your verdict should be death.”  - Ricker's Radar Screen.

The jury agreed and sentenced Jason Bush to two death penalties for the murders of Raul Flores, Jr and 9-year old Brisenia.

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