Now in its second week, the Arizona Minuteman murder trial of ex-Seattle prostitute Shawna Forde has become predictably weird, momentarily eclipsing talk of Tucson's other headline murderer, Jared Loughner. No longer the "fat white" blonde identified at the scene of a May 2009 trailer-home robbery/homicide of a suspected drug dealer and his 9-year-old daughter, a slimmed brunette Forde listened as a witness said she violated the local rules on killing dealers--they're game, but their families are off-limits.
Forde, ex-leader of a fringe border-watch group--Minutemen American Defense (MAD)--and a onetime Everett city council candidate, is the first to go on trial in the first-degree murders of a Mexican man, Raul Flores, and his daughter Brisenia, and the attempted murder of the man's wife, in Arivica, Arizona.
The onetime Boeing worker and self-proclaimed Seattle rock-music promoter is accused of masterminding the slayings to finance her outlaw band. Her family told Seattle Weekly she planned to grow it into a Blackwater-like organization, running mercenary missions south of the border. Jason "Gunny" Bush, also wanted for two murders in Wenatchee, is thought to be the shooter, and faces trial next. Forde, Bush, and a third accomplice all face the death penalty.
Flores' widow, on the stand last week, recalled the seconds after her husband was shot and she was wounded by Bush. Her daughter was left standing, unharmed.
He's all out of bullets by then because he used them on me and Junior. He stands there and he loads the gun right in front of her. I just hear her telling him, 'Please don't shoot me, please don't shoot me.' He did.
The Weekly's sister paper, Village Voice, has been campaigning to get more national media focus on the trial; its impact on the immigration debate is important, the paper says, while chiding outlets such as The New York Times and TV networks for not covering the story.
CNN, though, has been filing pieces, along with ABC. The wire services and dozens of important websites and bloggers are sending regular updates. Seattle civil-rights author and journalist David Neiwert has also been pushing for more national coverage--and is providing it as well at Crooks & Liars. "I have to admit," he says, "I'm baffled that, in a cable-TV business that prizes riveting audio snippets, it's gotten so little attention elsewhere."