Thursday, January 14, 2010

Key witness in deadly Arivaca home invasion given probation

By Kim Smith
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 01.12.2010
A key witness against three people suspected of killing an Arivaca man and his young daughter was sentenced to three years of intensive probation Tuesday.
On May 30, Raul Flores, 29, his wife, Gina Gonzalez, and their daughter, Brisenia Flores, 9, were shot by a group of individuals who claimed to be law enforcement officers and demanded to be allowed inside their house. Gonzalez was the only one who survived.
Oin Oakstar was questioned about the slayings, but was ultimately only indicted for possessing a weapon when, as a felon, he’s lost the right to bear arms.
Rather than risk a lengthy prison sentence, Oakstar agreed last month to plead guilty to the charge and testify against the three people indicted in the case if prosecutors would give him a probation eligible plea and/or limit the number of years he faced in prison.
On Tuesday, Pima County Superior Court Judge Jane Eikleberry chose to sentence Oakstar to intensive probation after prosecutor Rick Unklesbay and defense attorney Michael Rosenbluth said they thought Oakstar deserved a chance to prove himself.
Rosenbluth said Oakstar no longer lives in Arivaca, cut off ties with less-than-stellar associates and has sworn off drugs.
Oakstar told the judge he recently had the best day of his life and he wants every day to be like that day. He spent it with two children.
Unklesbay said he recognized the risk, but noted probation officers and his office would be closely monitoring Oakstar.
Eikleberry could have sentenced him to as much as 3.75 years in prison.
While on probation Oakstar must undergo substance abuse treatment and mental health counseling, Eikleberry said.
Oakstar must testify against Shawna Forde, 41, Jason Bush, 35, and Albert Gaxiola, 42.
The trio are charged with first-degree murder in the slayings and are facing a potential death sentence if convicted.
Oakstar told detectives he drove Forde and Bush past Raul Flores' house within 24 hours of the slayings and pointed it out to them.
Oakstar admitted he planned to accompany Bush, Forde and Gaxiola to the Flores house the night of the slayings, but got too drunk to go.
During a hearing in the case last month, Pima County Sheriff’s detective Juan Carlos Navarro testified witnesses will testify Forde wanted to raise money for the Minutemen American Defense and she told them she had someone in Arivaca gathering intelligence on people with ties to Mexican cartels.
Forde told the witnesses the cartels were funneling millions of dollars into Mexico, Arivaca was a "pivot point" and the Flores home was being used as a front, Navarro said.

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or

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