EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The federal government will not be seeking the death penalty against accused Walmart mass shooting suspect Patrick Wood Crusius, court documents show.
In a Tuesday filing in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Leachman submitted a notice to the court and to Crusius’ lawyers that “the government will not seek the death penalty (in this case).”
Crusius on Aug. 3, 2019, allegedly walked into the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso and opened fire with an assault rifle. Twenty-three people died and nearly two dozen were injured in the attack. Law enforcement officials later linked the attack to an online manifesto allegedly posted by Crusius railing against the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
A federal grand jury in 2020 issued a superseding indictment including 23 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, 23 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder related to a crime of violence, 22 counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill, and 22 counts of use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. The charges carry a maximum penalty of death or life in prison.
State charges also have been filed against Crusius. The state has not said if it will seek the death penalty.
Dee Margo, who served as mayor of El Paso at the time of the shooting, said he was disappointed that the federal government decided not to seek the death penalty. He believes the decision was political.
“I am exceptionally disappointed and I think it’s wrong,” Margo told a KTSM and Border Report team on Tuesday. “But I understand that is a decision that’s been made by the Biden administration to the Department of Justice across the board. It’s not a local decision made by the local U.S. Attorney.”
Margo said he talked to legal experts who tell him the decision likely will prompt defense attorneys to try to plea-bargain with the feds a lower sentence for their client.
He said he hopes state prosecutors, who are expected to take Crusius to trial on murder charges after the federal government is done with the case, seek the death penalty.
“I believe our new District Attorney Bill Hicks will attempt to build for the death penalty,” Margo said. “(The shooter) was an evil white supremacist who came from 700 miles away to attack us for who we are and I think he should be tried to the full extent of the penalties. […] Let’s face it, 23 of our community lost their lives, impacting families that are still grieving, and he needs to pay.”