Death Penalty For Shawna Forde


Most of my problems with the death penalty have more to do with its uneven application by race and class, the leaning heavily on coerced testimony and shaky evidence, and the questionable actions of politically ambitious prosecutors. Far too often, this leads to the conviction of the wrong person.

But this one? I think we have it nailed.

That said, as a good liberal, I should have know there were good reasons why she was so very, very twisted, and that’s where I have a real problem with the death penalty: These are people that we, as a society, have failed.

A Washington state resident who once bragged she was going to take her Minutemen group to the “next level” was sentenced to death Tuesday for plotting a deadly home invasion that took the life of a 9-year-old Arivaca girl and her father.

A Pima County jury deliberated four hours over two days before deciding Shawna Forde, 43, should join the other two women on Arizona’s death row.

Forde, 43, was convicted Feb. 14 of first-degree murder in the May 30, 2009, deaths of Raul Junior Flores, 29, and Brisenia Flores, 9, and of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Gina Gonzalez, Flores’ wife and Brisenia’s mother.

Jurors were told Forde needed money for her border protection group, Minutemen American Defense, and decided to rob drug smugglers near the border.

Gonzalez testified her husband opened the door of their home to a man and a woman claiming to be law enforcement officers looking for fugitives.

The man opened fire on the couple when Junior Flores questioned their story and their daughter was shot at point-blank range while pleading for her life, Gonzalez told jurors.

A handful of inexpensive jewelry was later found in Forde’s possession.

Defense attorney Jill Thorpe asked jurors to spare Ford’s life, saying she was a “broken person” who suffered repeated acts of sexual and physical abuse and abandonment as a child.

The abuse and a subsequent stroke resulted in brain damage that left Forde vulnerable to manipulation, Thorpe said. She was unable to assess people or change course, she said.

Forde’s childhood also caused her to develop a narcissistic personality that led her to make to outlandish claims and an inability to accept responsibility for her involvement in the Floreses’ deaths, Thorpe said.

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