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(CNN) - Brisenia Flores arrived in her rural Arivaca, AZ home with her parents, Raul Flores and Gina Gonzales, the evening of May 29th, 2009. The family had spent the day shopping for Brisenia’s new shoes about 60 miles northeast in Tucson. The 9-year-old girl had just finished the 3rd grade and needed the shoes for summer camp that was about to start.
Brisenia went to bed on a couch in the living room so she could sleep with her dog that wasn’t allowed in her room. She fell asleep watching television as her parents slept in their bedroom. A few hours later, she opened her eyes to the sight of her father, lying on the opposite couch. He had been shot in the chest and was choking on his own blood. Her mother was bleeding on the floor, a gunshot wound to her leg. The little girl was startled and cried out to intruders in her home, “Why did you shoot my mom?”
Gina Gonzales described the scene to jurors in an Arizona courthouse this week in the capital murder trial of Shawna Forde, the accused ringleader of the fatal raid in the early hours of May 30th.
caption="Shawna Forde, the accused ringleader of the fatal raid." width=292 height=320]
Gonzales testified that four people knocked on the door claiming to be law enforcement and border patrol. They said the house was surrounded as they had information that the family was harboring fugitives. Gonzales said her husband, Raul Flores, opened the door and allowed them inside. She said they knew immediately the people entering were not law enforcement at all. She described a short, heavy-set woman, a “super tall” white male and two other Spanish-speaking men as the people in her home.
Gonzales says that after a short struggle, the tall man shot her husband several times in the stomach and chest before turning the gun on her. She was shot in the leg and fell to the floor when she heard her husband choking on his own blood. She says he could hear the gunman reassure Brisenia, who had woken up by the blasts of the weapon, that she wouldn’t be hurt.
"She was really scared. Her voice was shaking,” Gonzales cried as she testified in the witness stand. “I know she's crying and really scared."
Gonzales says her daughter began to question why her mother and father were shot when the gunman reloaded his weapon. "I can hear her say 'Please don't shoot me,’” said Gonzales, wiping away tears and sobbing.
The gunman paid no attention to her pleas and fired two shots into Brisenia’s head, causing the girl to fly back on the couch, Gonzales recounted. She said she could hear her daughter struggling to breathe as the intruders began to steal items and leave the home. Gonzalez made her way to a weapon her husband kept in the kitchen and called 9-1-1.
The emergency call recorded the moment that the intruders re-entered the home, realizing that Gonzales was still alive. A series of gunshots can be heard as Gonzales fired the weapon in self-defense. One of the intruders was shot before they all left the home.
Raul Flores and his young daughter, who just minutes before was sleeping peacefully on the couch in her own home, were both dead.
Prosecutors say Shawna Forde, a vigilante anti-illegal immigration activist, was not only the woman described in the home, but was also the ringleader of the home invasion and murder.
Forde was once a member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps before being removed from the group for what members describe to CNN as unstable behavior. She formed a splinter group, Minutemen American Defense, and patrolled the Arizona-Mexico border armed with weapons. She led protests about the dangers and criminal activity along the porous border.
Prosecutors say Forde planned the raid and murders in an elaborate plan to steal drugs weapons and money to help fund her new anti-illegal immigration group. They allege her accomplices were Jason Bush and Albert Gaxiola. Bush, who is alleged to have been the gunman, was the National Director of Operations for the Minutemen American Defense. It’s alleged that Gaxiola was brought into the plan to raid the home by Forde for his inside knowledge that Raul Flores had drugs in the home. Flores had a history of drug-related offenses, but no drugs were found in the home.
During opening statements, the state laid out the case against Forde, who has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors allege that jewelry taken from the home was found in Forde’s possession, blood from the scene and a van used in the robbery came from Jason Bush and that text messages sent from a phone registered to Forde implicate her in the crime.
All three are charged with first degree murder. If convicted, Forde will face the death penalty. Bush's trial is scheduled for March while Gaxiola is set to go on trial in June.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama is putting all of his players into place for the second half of his term, obviously with hopes of winning a second term in the process. Personally, I think he wants to stay in office just to keep receiving my daily letters, but who knows?
Dear Mr. President,
My morning run was not exactly pleasant I must say. Snow, slush, and standing water all over. In many places the sidewalks were impassable, and the roads were plowed just enough for cars to get by, so I ended up looping through the neighborhood for eight miles, slipping and sliding up and down the hills. I think I actually blistered the tips of my toes trying to grab a little traction inside my wet shoes. Still, I put my head down and trudged on.
I suppose I looked a little silly to some, but I am trying really hard to stick to a training schedule I got from Runner’s World, so if you hear any making cracks (ahem…Biden) tell them to cut me some slack.
And frankly, as I endured the elements this morning, I was reminded of a valuable lesson. Sometimes the secret to accomplishing great things is getting past all the excuses, all the difficulties, and just soldiering on. It really can be that simple. I think that is a concept that you might want to push at the new alignment of players on your team as you burn into your second two years in office. It is far too easy for even great ideas to be dragged to a halt by too much study, too much debate, and too much noodling around. As valuable as such things can be, at some point you have to put your head down and confidently charge forward.
After all, the biggest impediments to progress for most companies are internal; they simply get all twisted up trying to sort out all the possible outcomes of plans that are far too complex, and they end up doing nothing, or investing so much time and money into their idea that by the time it is finally launched it is inherently doomed. Same for politicians.
Look, I could have sat around all morning looking at the weather forecast, trying to pick the precise moment when it would be warmest and driest outside. I could have fretted about my socks and how many layers I was going to wear. I could have agonized over which of three different hats would keep me the most comfortable. Instead, I strapped on my shoes, hit the road, and an hour and a half later I was done. It wasn’t pretty. But it was pretty effective. And sometimes that’s really all that matters. Hope you are staying dry. Call if you can.
As darkness fell Friday, thousands of angry Egyptians defied a government curfew and stinging police tear gas to march on the streets demanding change.
The United States appealed for restraint, but Friday evening the sounds of what seemed to be gunfire rang out near a Cairo police station on which protesters had converged.
The government cracked down throughout the day with thousands of riot and plain-clothes police and the force of the army in armored personnel carriers equipped with gun turrets. Undeterred, people ran, screamed, hurled rocks and accosted walls of security as they tried to make their way to central Cairo.
Embattled President Hosni Mubarak imposed a nationwide curfew from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. State-run Nile TV said the curfew was in response to the "hooliganism and lawlessness" of the protesters.
Vans packed with riot police circled Cairo neighborhoods before the start of weekly prayers in the afternoon. Later in the day, Egyptian soldiers moved onto the streets, the first time the army has been deployed to quell unrest since 1985.
But protesters, fed up with economic woes and a lack of freedoms, defied all warnings to demand an end to Mubarak's authoritarian 30-year-rule.
They chanted "God is Great" and the dictator must go. "Down, Down, Mubarak," they shouted.
Plumes of rancid, thick smoke billowed over the Nile River as, by day's close, chaos reigned in the bustling metropolis. Fires could be seen in front of the Egyptian ruling party's headquarters.
Police fired tear gas with force and impunity. A tourist on the balcony of his 18th floor hotel room told CNN he had to run in and wash his eyes and face from the stinging gas.
Police confiscated cameras from people, including guests at the Hilton Hotel.
As the government cracked down on protesters across Egypt, opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who returned home to Cairo to join the demonstrations, was placed under house arrest, a high-level security source told CNN.
ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, was warned earlier not to leave a mosque near downtown Cairo where he was attending Friday prayers.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the Egyptian crisis Friday, urging all parties to be peaceful and engage in dialog.
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