Shawna Forde was in court Monday with her fellow accomplices, Gunny Bush and Albert Gaxiola, for the murders of 9 year old Brisenia Flores and her Dad. Each of their lawyers began setting the groundwork so each defendant could try to pass off blame for the murders on the others.
Pima County Superior Court, Judge John Leonardo agreed Monday to try Jason Bush separately from his co-defendants. Leonardo scheduled Bush's trial for Nov. 2, 2010, and the trial of Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola for Jan. 4, 2011. Forde's and Gaxiola's attorneys want their clients to get their own separate trials, too, but Leonardo declined to split them up, defense attorney Eric Larsen said. Larsen, one of Forde's attorneys, said he has been given permission to ask for a severance again in the future.
Forde's and Gaxiola's attorneys believe separate trials are needed because it would be impossible for a jury to believe one of the defendants "without excluding the defense" of the other. According to court documents, Larsen said if Gaxiola points the finger at Forde, she would want to tell jurors about Gaxiola's drug ties and convictions. She also would point out a friend of Gaxiola's, who has not been charged in this case, "most fits the description" of the man who was seen with Gaxiola "scouting the victims' residence."
Even if Gaxiola and Forde's defenses aren't "mutually exclusive," the trials should be separate because Gaxiola would probably want to "inflame the passions" of the jury by telling them about Forde's association with the border defense movement, Larsen said. Gaxiola's attorneys, Jack Lansdale and Steve West, contend Gaxiola wasn't inside the house when the victims were shot. They want a separate trial because Bush told police he shot the victims under duress from Gaxiola, and they believe Forde probably will say the same thing.