Border activist becomes 3rd woman on death row after Tucson jury's sentence

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Shawna Forde during her murder trial in Pima County Superior Court. By Catherine Holland Shawna Forde during her murder trial in Pima County Superior Court. By Catherine Holland

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- An Arizona jury has sentenced a border activist to death in the 2009 murder of a young girl and her father.

The Pima County Attorney's Office said Tuesday the Tucson jury returned the death penalty verdict against Shawna Forde. She now becomes the third woman on Arizona's death row.

The jury deliberated four just four hours over two days before arriving at their decision.

Forde, 43, was convicted last week of first-degree murder and other charges in the May 2009 home invasion in Arivaca, a desert community about 10 miles north of Mexico.

Raul Flores, 29, and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia, were killed in the robbery.

Gina Gonzalez, Flores' wife and Brisenia's mother, was also shot during the home invasion, but she survived and testified against Forde. She told the court she played dead and listened to Brisenia plead for her life.

While Forde's lawyers argued that Forde was never inside the house, prosecutors said she was the one who was behind the attack.

Forde's attorneys also said the Forde had a personality disorder in the wake of abuse she suffered as a child.

Forde reportedly launched her own anti-illegal immigrant vigilante group after being expelled from the well-known Minutemen Civil Defense Corps in 2007. According to Chris Simcox, the leader of the Minutemen, Forde allegedly lied and pretended to be a senior leader of the group.

The mission of her group, Forde reportedly told people, would be going after the drug cartels.

The two men who allegedly dressed as law-enforcement officers and broke into the Flores home with Forde -- Jason Eugene Bush, believed to be the gunman, and Albert Robert Gaxiola -- are scheduled to go on trial this spring.

Like Forde, both men could face the death penalty.