El Paso defense attorney to lead Walmart shooting suspect’s state and federal cases

El Paso Strong

The Walmart shooting suspect at a court hearing on Oct. 10.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso defense attorney Joe Spencer will now lead the defense in both the state and federal capital murder trials of alleged Walmart shooter Patrick Crusius, according to court documents.

Denver criminal defense attorney David Lane, who was appointed to represent Crusius in the federal case against him, was removed Sept. 8.

According to court documents, U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama appointed Spencer as lead counsel for both the state and federal cases. Previously, Spencer was the lead counsel on Crusius’ defense team in his state trial.

Spencer will be paid $195 an hour, the maximum rate for death penalty cases, according to the documents. 

Spencer has extensive experience in both state and federal courts in his more than 30-year career.

He has represented more than 100 clients charged with capital murder or murder, and none have been sentenced to death, according to the documents. 

Crusius was arrested on Aug. 3 for allegedly shooting and killing 22 people and injuring 25 others at the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso.

In April, one of those injured, 36-year-old Guillermo “Memo” Garcia, died after undergoing multiple surgeries from injuries sustained during the Aug. 3 shooting. According to officials, Garcia died never having left the intensive care unit where he was being treated.

In July, a federal grand jury in El Paso reindicted the shooting suspect to reflect the death of Guillermo “Memo” Garcia. He pleaded not guilty to the new federal charges filed against him.

Authorities said he confessed to the shooting and allegedly told them he was targeting Mexicans. Officers arrested Crusius a few blocks away from the scene.

In October 2019, Crusius pleaded not guilty to charges of capital murder. 

His lawyers said the not guilty plea is an effort to fight the death penalty in the case, which prosecutors said they will seek.

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