Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Shawna Forde

Jason Bush on Trial

 

Friday, March 18, 2011, saw the opening of the second trial stemming from the Arivaca home invasion, that of triggerman Jason Bush. From the beginning it was clear that Bush's defense team had no intention of disputing Bush's confession or his complicity in the crime. The real battle would be in the penalty phase, when their client's life was at stake.

Jason Bush
Jason Bush

Bush, 36, faced two first-degree murder counts for the killings of Raul Flores and his daughter Brisenia, as well as an attempted first-degree murder for the shooting of Gina Gonzalez. The state also charged him with a number of lesser burglary and assault charges.

Although Bush's trial was far shorter than Forde's, the verdicts were identical. On March 25, a four-man, eight-woman jury convicted Bush on all counts, including the two first-degree murder charges that would make necessary a punishment phase to determine Bush's fate.

As in Forde's penalty phase, prosecutors recalled Gina Gonzalez to give a victim-impact statement and then Bush's defense made a play for the jury's sympathy by emphasizing the defendant's painful childhood. Bush's parents legally had disowned him at the age of 11; he had been put in a mental institution where he had been sexually assaulted and abused by older boys. A neurospsychologist took the stand to give his opinion that Bush was a paranoid schizophrenic who had manufactured documents and stories to back up his invented military career.

On April 6, the jury came back with a unanimous decision that Bush should be given the death penalty. Judge Leonardo declared Bush would be killed via lethal injection. Bush now resides on death row in the state prison in Florence, Ariz., the same facility as Shawna Forde.

The third co-conspirator Albert Gaxiola is scheduled to stand trial for murder in June 2011.

 

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