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'I'm torn:' A death penalty opponent reacts to the sentencing of Brisenia Flores' convicted killer



Screen shot from Presente.org

As Arizona state senators yesterday prepared to hear some of the strictest anti-illegal immigration legislation to come out of the state since SB 1070, a convicted murderer whose crime was rooted in one of the darker corners of the immigration debate was sentenced to death in Tucson.

Shawna Forde, a radical anti-illegal immigration activist who led a Minuteman splinter group, has joined two other women on Arizona's death row; she was convicted last week in the brutal 2009 home invasion murder of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul, in the Arizona border town of Arivaca.

Forde was also convicted of robbery, the believed motive, and was not convicted of a hate crime. But it has been difficult to separate the crime from the beliefs she espoused. Among the reactions today is this post on Slate by blogger Amanda Marcotte:

Few news items have provoked mixed feelings as strongly in me as learning that Shawna Forde was sentenced to death yesterday, after being convicted of a hate crime that's up there with the dragging death of James Byrd in Jasper and the killing of Matthew Shepard, though Forde's crime has, for some hard to discern reason, not received nearly the same levels of attention. I'm torn, because I oppose the death penalty broadly, but I also believe that hate crimes and domestic terrorism are ideal crimes for maximum sentences that send the message to future would-be terrorists that they do not have community support.

Marcotte echoed a sentiment shared by others who have written about the Flores murder in recent days:
Forde's beliefs were basically that Mexican immigrants are subhuman and deserve to be wiped out.  Certainly, one can see why she would think the community supported her--she lived and acted in Arizona, a state that has gone to extremes when it comes to anti-immigrant sentiment.

The Daily Beast has published photos of Forde during a border watch, including one of the tattoo on her back. Two male accomplices accused in the murder are to stand trial later this year.