The Duel of the Cell Phones
Lead case Det. Juan Carlos Navarro took the stand to testify about cell phone text messages on February 3, 2011. It is unknown whether he has the required expertise to know which texts were sent by which phones. Defense attorney Eric Larsen took him apart on cross-examination and showed how flimsy the case against Shawna Forde is. As a result of this, it is reported that Navarro spends his time in court staring daggers at the defense table.
The source of these texts is not certain. For example, the text that was allegedly sent on May 30 to Shawna’s daughter was never received by her. It read:
“Whatever goes down im in deep know I love u make me proud and do somethin good with ur life ill call in a week god bless u jasz.”
Four days before that text, Shawna’s daughter had called her and told her that she had lost her phone, and that she wouldn’t be able to get any calls from Shawna.
According to Shawna’s daughter, “My Mom has never texted me in her life! And what’s in that text is not stuff she would say to me.” She said she almost never saw Shawna text anyone, and that Forde always preferred talking on the phone to texting others.
Forde won’t win any spelling bee awards, yet all the texts are spelled in perfect English! This is one of the strongest indicators that the phone was likely not in her possession during the texting, as there are no misspellings.
The chance that the words could have been spelled properly is increased if the texter uses the T9 or auto-complete function found on all cell phones. According to her son, Devon, “she liked simple technology she could understand. Auto-complete was just too hard for her.” Shawna’s son and daughter say that on those very rare occasions when she texted through her cell phone she always spelled words out using the individual alphabetical letters. She never used the auto-complete feature which had the potential to correct spelling errors.
According to Chuck Stonex’s testimony, and by the Prosecution’s own admission, cell phones can be used by those other than their owners to send text messages. Stonex testified that he saw Jason Bush send texts and make calls on Shawna’s cell phone. It was revealed that Gina Sue Moraga likely used Albert Gaxiola’s cell phone to send messages, and that Bush’s code name may have been “Red,” a name which was signed to a text message sent on Shawna’s phone.
Navarro’s conjecture is dangerous speculation. In the December 21, 2009 probable cause hearing, Navarro said Gaxiola’s cell phone was using a cell tower in Amado, 21 miles away from Arivaca. Until a cell phone itself can be put on the witness stand, take an oath, and be questioned about its texts, there is no proof who sent texts with any given phone. But proper spelling is a dead giveaway they weren’t sent by Shawna.