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3rd border activist convicted in Arizona killings

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A third border activist has been convicted of killing a southern Arizona man and his young daughter in a 2009 home invasion.

Authorities said 44-year-old Albert Gaxiola was one of three people dressed as law enforcement officers who forced their way into the victims’ home in Arivaca, south of Tucson, at about 1 a.m. on May 30, 2009. Prosecutors said Gaxiola, of Arivaca, wanted 29-year-old Raul Junior Flores dead because he was a competitor in the drug trade.

Gina Gonzalez testified that her husband — Flores — opened the door to two people claiming to be U.S. Border Patrol agents, and a man opened fire when her husband questioned their identities. As she pretended to be dead, Gonzalez said the man shot her daughter twice in the face from close range.

After the shootings, Gonzalez said a female intruder announced it was “all clear” to two men who then came in and assisted in ransacking her house. Gonzalez later told detectives the man reminded her of Gaxiola, who was once a family friend.

Gaxiola’s attorneys told jurors that their client wasn’t involved in the slayings and wasn’t anywhere near the victims’ home that morning.

A Pima County Superior Court jury deliberated five hours Friday before finding Gaxiola guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of Flores and 9-year-old Brisenia Flores. Gaxiola also was convicted of attempting to murder Gonzalez, who was shot twice.

Jurors also convicted Gaxiola of burglary, armed robbery, aggravated assault and aggravated robbery. They now must whether the circumstances of the case warrant consideration of the death penalty.

Gaxiola’s two co-defendants, Shawna Forde and Jason Bush — both from Washington state — were convicted earlier this year and are on Arizona’s death row. Bush was identified by Gonzalez as the gunman.

The Arizona Daily Star has reported that Bush was part of Minutemen American Defense founder Forde’s plan to rob and kill drug smugglers to fund her organization.

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Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.azstarnet.com

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