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No Death Penalty for Alleged Walmart Shooter

State

El Paso Walmart accused mass shooter Patrick Crusius | Image by Mark Lambie/Pool via REUTERS

Federal prosecutors will not ask for the death penalty in the case of a man who allegedly killed 23 people and injured many others at a Walmart in El Paso in 2019.

The prosecution claims that Patrick Wood Crusius drove for 11 hours from his home in Allen, near Dallas, to El Paso, on the U.S.-Mexico border, on August 3, 2019. He then allegedly used an AK-47 rifle to shoot people in a Walmart.

“The United States of America hereby notifies the Court and Defendant PATRICK WOOD CRUSIUS that the Government will not seek the death penalty in the instant case,” read a court document.

Crusius, 24, is charged with 23 counts of using a firearm to murder in a crime of violence, 23 counts of a hate crime resulting in death, 22 counts of a hate crime, and 22 firearm charges, according to the publication El Paso Matters.

Life in prison is his maximum federal sentence short of the death penalty.

“This hate crime may be considered an act of domestic terrorism, as have other hate crimes throughout our history, like the violence wrought by white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan,” said Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), in February 2020 when Crusius was first indicted.

In a manifesto that police believe was posted by Crusius on the now-closed message board 8chan, the Walmart attack was called “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” EPM reported.

“They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by the invasion,” the post read.

Crusius pleaded not guilty to the 90 federal hate crime charges in 2020. The case was put on hold while prosecutors decided whether to go for the death penalty.

El Paso District Attorney Bill Hicks said his office would keep going after the death penalty for state capital murder charges while also keeping an eye on what happened in the federal case, according to EPM.

“But the defendant is in federal custody, and the state is not able to charge him until he is out of federal custody and in state custody,” Hicks said, per EPM.

Hicks said he did not know when or if the federal government would give him back to the state.

“There are too many ifs, and I don’t have the answers to that right now,” he said, EPN reported.

In 2020, Crusius’ lawyers argued that if he was found guilty, he should not be put to death because of his severe, lifelong neurological and mental disabilities.

A court document claims Crusius was in a psychotic state and given medicine to treat it when he was put into custody by police soon after the shooting.

The tragic El Paso incident tracks with a rise in violent crime here in Dallas, especially crimes involving firearms. In the first weeks of 2023, with the city council persisting in its hands-off approach, rates of murder and other offenses have surpassed even the sky-high 2022 levels.

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