Yes, it's true: Shawna Forde has her defenders -- one of her old Minuteman border-watch associates, in fact, who has concocted a conspiracy theory that this was all a setup to pin the crime on Shawna and the Minutemen. She even has an explanation for how Forde managed to get ahold of survivor Gina Gonzalez's jewelry.
Her name is Laine Lawless, and she is a scheduled witness in the case, which means she can't attend court hearings until after she testifies. So yesterday she brought the Shawna Forde trial to a screeching halt mid-testimony when she tried to sneak into the courtroom wearing a really cheesy disguise:
The capital murder trial of Shawna Forde came to an abrupt halt this morning when a witness in the case - one of Shawna Forde's biggest supporters - came into the courtroom in disguise, violating a court order that all witnesses remain outside the courtroom.
Laine Lawless, wearing a black wig, short trenchcoat and sunglasses, was immediately spotted by reporters and detectives. One of the detectives alerted prosecutor Rick Unklesbay, who immediately asked to approach the bench of Judge John Leonardo.
The jurors were quickly ushered out of the room and Leonardo asked Lawless if she did not understand him when he told her on Tuesday that she and all other witnesses are not allowed in the courtroom until after the attorneys release them from their subpoenas.
Lawless told the judge she understood his order, but objected to it as she is a "citizen reporter" who has a right to be in the courtroom. She insisted she was told she was not going to be called as a witness, something the attorneys for both sides denied telling her.
In fact, prosecutor Kellie Johnson told Judge Leonardo she has exchanged e-mails with Lawless since Tuesday reiterating she is still under subpoena and can't be in the courtroom. Johnson said she told Lawless if she objected to the court order to take it up with the judge.
Lawless said she doesn't remember what the dates on the subpoena are and believes those are relevant.
At prosecutor Rick Unklesbay's suggestion, Judge Leonardo told Lawless that she is not only banned from the courtroom unless or until she's called to testify, but she's banned from the courthouse. In answer to her question, the judge said she can get someone else to file any motions she has objecting to his ruling.
Here's Laine Lawless in action back in 2006:
We've written about her previously -- and believe me: In the dictionary, under "piece of work," they have Laine Lawless's picture:
Lawless, in fact, has been a significant figure on the Minuteman front for some time now, not least because she formed one of the first spinoff groups. She played a key role in helping Chris Simcox organize one of his earlier versions of the Minutemen, the Civil Homeland Defense, and was one of the characters who showed up on video when the Minutemen first organized their border watch.
However, she got the boot shortly afterward, no doubt because she's such a lunatic that not even Simcox wanted to be associated with her. So she started up her own Minuteman offshoot, and it was shortly in the business of forming alliances with real neo-Nazis and even offering them advice on how to harass Latinos:
A prominent anti-immigration leader has secretly urged the nation's largest neo-Nazi group to launch a campaign of violence and harassment against undocumented workers in the United States.
Laine Lawless, who started a group called Border Guardians last year, sent an April 3 e-mail to Mark Martin, "SS commander" of the Western Ohio unit of the National Socialist Movement, which has 59 chapters in 30 states. It was titled, "How to GET RID OF THEM!"
The e-mail from Lawless, who was also an original member of Chris Simcox's vigilante militia before it morphed into the Minuteman Project in early 2005, detailed 11 suggestions for ways to harass and terrorize undocumented immigrants, including robbery and "beating up illegals" as they leave their workplace.
"Maybe some of your warriors for the race would be the kind of people willing to implement some of these ideas," Lawless wrote. "I'm not ready to come out on this. ... Please don't use my name. THANKS."
At the request of Lawless, who declined to respond to questions from the Intelligence Report, Martin posted her suggestions to a number of neo-Nazi bulletin boards. Those suggestions included:
-- "Steal the money from any illegal walking into a bank or check cashing place."
-- "Make every illegal alien feel the heat of being a person without status. ... I hear the rednecks in the South are beating up illegals as the textile mills have closed. Use your imagination."
-- "Discourage Spanish-speaking children from going to school. Be creative."
-- "Create an anonymous propaganda campaign warning that any further illegal immigrants will be shot, maimed or seriously messed-up upon crossing the border. This should be fairly easy to do, considering the hysteria of the Spanish language press, and how they view the Minutemen as 'racists & vigilantes.' "
In other news, Forde's sister testified -- and that wasn't good
Aranda told jurors she met Forde when Forde was 18 or 19 years old and has only seen her four or five times since then.
On one of those occasions, in April 2009, Aranda testified her sister talked about robbing people associated with drug cartels to fund her Minutemen group.
"I didn't take it seriously, mainly because she has a habit of exaggerating. She likes to talk big," Aranda said.