Federal prosecutors said Tuesday they will not seek the death penalty in their case against the gunman who killed 23 people in the 2019 mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
Patrick Wood Crusius faces numerous federal hate crimes and firearms charges in federal court in the Western District of Texas.
On Aug. 3, 2019, the then-21-year-old white man allegedly drove from the Dallas suburbs to El Paso with a variant of an AK-47 assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, according to the federal indictment.
He allegedly uploaded a racist tirade online before the massacre, claiming his attack was “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” A majority of the 23 victims and dozens of wounded were of Mexican descent or Mexican citizens.
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Federal prosecutors filed their notice to the court that “the Government will not seek the death penalty” in their case. U.S. District Judge David C. Guaderrama had given federal prosecutors until Tuesday to file the notice of intent.
Guaderrama has scheduled the federal trial for 2024. Jury selection is set to begin on Jan. 8 next year.
Crusius faces the death penalty in the state capital murder case against him, which hasn’t been scheduled for trial.
The defendant’s attorney, Joe Spencer, declined to comment on Tuesday, citing the gag order in the state case that precludes attorneys from speaking about the Walmart shooting.
In 2021, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered a moratorium on federal executions, pending a review of policies and procedures. The Justice Department has continued to pursue the death penalty, however, in some terrorism-related cases.
Justice Department officials and elected leaders called the Walmart shooting an example of “domestic terrorism,” but there is no specific “domestic terrorism” charge in the federal code.
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This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Texas Walmart shooting: Feds to not seek death penalty in El Paso case