EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A federal judge has set a sentencing date for a North Texas man who pleaded guilty to killing 23 people and wounding 22 others at an El Paso Walmart on Aug. 3, 2019.
U.S. District Judge David C. Guaderrama is calling the defense and prosecutors to court at 9 a.m. on June 30 to discuss a presentence report on Patrick Wood Crusius. The judge will begin taking victim impact statements on July 5 – which could take multiple days – and plans to pronounce the sentence at 10 a.m. the day after that process concludes, court documents filed on Wednesday show.
Crusius pleaded guilty last February to federal charges in connection with what investigators concluded was a hate crime. The North Texas resident allegedly published an online manifesto prior to the shooting railing against the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
Investigators said he drove 10 hours to El Paso and, on a Saturday morning, entered the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall with an assault rifle and opened fire on dozens of people. Victims ranged from a girls’ soccer coach to parents who died protecting their baby to a schoolteacher from Juarez, Mexico, who came to shop for school supplies in El Paso.
The shooter faces 90 life sentences in the federal case as part of a plea agreement that came together after prosecutors said they would not be seeking the death penalty.
As soon as the federal government sentences Crusius, he will face state charges in connection to the massacre, El Paso District Attorney Bill Hicks said on Thursday.
“The number one priority of my office has been to put the Walmart case back on track, and I’m very confident we have done that,” Hicks said. “We are prepared to proceed with prosecution in the case. Once he is back in our custody, it looks like it may be late (July), maybe early August, we will be able to proceed with that case.”
When asked if the state would be seeking the death penalty, Hicks said “We have not changed our election on that; there will be further announcements forthcoming.”
Asked if there’s a possibility the defendant’s counsel might request a change of venue given the high-profile nature of the case in El Paso County, Hicks said his office will deal with that after the state case is set for trial.
“I believe that all parties would like to try the case in El Paso,” he said.