US & Canada

Activist Shawna Forde guilty of migrants' murder

Shawna Forde (centre) listening to opening arguments in her murder trial
Image caption Forde (centre) was found guilty on eight counts, including first-degree murder and attempted murder

The leader of an anti-illegal immigration group has been convicted for the murder of a nine-year-old girl and her father during a 2009 home invasion in the US state of Arizona.

Prosecutors said Shawna Forde broke into the family's home to steal drug money to fund her group's operations.

The 42-year-old was found guilty on eight counts, including first-degree murder, attempted murder and robbery.

Jurors will meet on Tuesday to decide if the death penalty will be sought.

The Pima County jury found Forde guilty of killing Raul Flores, 29, and his daughter, Brisenia, at their home in Arivaca, near border with Mexico.

Forde was also convicted of the attempted murder of Brisenia's mother.

Deadly invasion

Forde and two men dressed as police officers forced their way into Mr Flores' home and then shot him, his daughter and his wife, who survived the attack, authorities said.

Albert Robert Gaxiola and Jason Eugene Bush, Forde's alleged accomplices, are scheduled to go on trial later this year.

Forde's lawyer, Eric Larsen, argued his client, who had pleaded not guilty, did not enter the home.

But prosecutors disputed the claim and said the leader of the Minutemen American Defense, a small immigrant watch group based in Arizona, must take responsibility for the organisation's actions.

"She didn't put a gun to Brisenia's head... but she was the one in charge," prosecuting lawyer Rick Unklesbay told jurors.

"Because of that you must hold her accountable," he added.

Forde was reportedly expelled from the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a national volunteer group which monitors US borders for illegal immigrants, in 2007.

Forde then began her own group.

More on this story