We've been remarking for awhile how strange it is that the case of Shawna Forde has received so little media attention, especially because of its naturally sensational elements and the fact that it has real political and social significance. Indeed, one of the most common reactions we've observed among readers to whom we've presented the case has been: "Why haven't I heard about this?"
Even with yesterday's conviction on two counts of first-degree murder for the killings of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father, it hasn't gotten a great deal better: the story, for instance, ran as only a "brief" in the New York Times, and didn't appear at all in the Washington Post, even though both had written briefly about it previously.
Well, at least CNN -- the only cable-TV network to have bothered to pick up the story previously -- did a full-length segment on the story, which ran on Anderson Cooper's show.
It pretty well covered the bases, although it repeatedly emphasized that Forde had been "kicked out" of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps for being "emotionally unstable" and that she was supposedly not associated with any of them -- even though in fact Forde maintained a close association with Minuteman Project cofounder Jim Gilchrist right up to the moment of her arrest, and was very much part of the larger Minutemen movement.
Easily the best coverage of the case came from the local reporters at the Arizona Daily Star and from the Daily Beast's Terri Greene Sterling, who yesterday pulled off a coup by getting Forde to talk to her for a post-conviction interview.
As we observed yesterday, one of the more remarkable aspects of the announcement of the jury's verdict was how utterly unfazed by it Forde seemed to be. Sterling zeroed in on this:
Forde, dressed in a navy-and-cream blazer and navy pants, remained calm as she listened to the verdict, even though the murder charges could lead to a death sentence in a state that does not shy from executions. The 43-year-old former child burglar, mom, beautician, and self-professed Minuteman from Everett, Washington, kept her composure, because, she told The Daily Beast in an exclusive post-verdict jailhouse interview, “you can’t freak out with the whole world watching you.”
Speaking by videophone in the Pima County Adult Detention Center, the woman prosecutors dubbed a braggart and a killer—who reportedly boasted she would “kick down doors and change America” with her border vigilante activities—maintained her innocence.
Wearing glasses, no makeup, and black-and-white striped jailhouse pajamas, Forde told me she was “extremely saddened” by the verdict. The jury of 11 women and one man also found Forde guilty of attempted murder, two counts of assault, two counts of robbery and one count of burglary. The jury gave a clear victory to prosecutors, who accused Forde of cooking up a plan to steal drugs and money from Raul Flores by gaining entry to his Arivaca, Arizona, mobile home with accomplices on the pretense of being law-enforcement officers in search of fugitives.
The verdict was “surreal” to Forde, but she said she took it like a “pro.” As the leader of Minutemen American Defense, or MAD, which she described as a large organization of patriots, she said she’d learned to “take things step by step, revamp, assess, and move forward.”
Forde also claimed that she sympathized with Brisenia's mother, Gina Gonzalez, who was shot in the home invasion but survived, and later identified Forde as the leader of the gang. But then, she had a very bizarre way of expressing it:
“I know in her mind,” Forde said of Gonzalez, “I am guilty and she hates me. I know her tragedy is extremely sad.” But on the other hand, she said “people shouldn’t deal drugs if they have kids.” (No drugs were found in the trailer.)
Forde told me she’d “lost a daughter” and she knows from experience Gonzalez will feel pain “the rest of her life” and her “tragedy is extremely sad.” “I wish I could say I was sorry it happened,” Forde said. “I am not sorry on my behalf because I didn’t do it.”
Forde, of course, is a prodigious liar. Fortunately, the jury figured that out.