‘Criminals before victims’: Outrage as El Paso Walmart shooter Patrick Crusius won’t face death penalty
EL PASO, TEXAS: Federal prosecutors have decided not to seek the death penalty for a man accused of killing 23 people in a racial attack at West Texas Walmart in 2019. In a one-sentence notice filed Tuesday, January 17, with the federal court in El Paso, the United States Department of Justice announced its decision not to seek the death penalty against Patrick Crusius.
The rationale for the decision was not explained by federal prosecutors in their court filing, although Crusius could still face the death penalty if convicted in state court. The ruling comes just weeks after Jaime Esparza, the former El Paso district attorney, was appointed US Attorney for the Western District of Texas.
What was Patrick Crusius' crime?
Crusius, 24, is suspected of specifically targeting Mexicans during the August 3, 2019, massacre, which killed 23 people and injured 23 others. In state court, the Dallas native is charged with federal hate crimes and gun violations, as well as capital murder. Crusius entered a not-guilty plea.
According to an arrest warrant, Crusius turned himself in after the shooting, claiming to be the gunman, saying, “I’m the shooter,” and that he had targeted Mexicans. He allegedly posted a screed online shortly before the shooting that claimed it was "in response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas," according to the prosecution.
The Walmart where the attack occurred is popular with Mexican visitors who shop there after coming across from the border city of Juarez. The vast majority of the victims were Mexican or of Mexican heritage, reported The Independent.
Death Penalty or No Death Penalty?
In a necessary filing in federal court in El Paso on Tuesday, January 17, the US Department of Justice revealed its decision not to seek the death penalty against Crusius. “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,” the filing stated. However, when serving as district attorney, Esparza, declared that he would seek Crusius' execution. A representative for Esparza's office directed queries to the Justice Department, which declined to comment.
The decision by the prosecutors could be a watershed moment for the Justice Department, which has provided inconsistent signals on policy regarding the federal death sentence, which President Biden committed to abolishing during his presidential campaign. Biden is the first president to explicitly reject the death penalty, and his election heightened the hopes of abolitionists, who have subsequently been disappointed by a lack of clarity on how the administration plans to cease federal executions if that is even the goal. There will be no federal executions while the Justice Department conducts a review of capital sentence reviews and procedures, as directed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in 2021.
Crusius may face trial on state charges at some point in the future, despite the fact that the federal and state cases have developed concurrently. Crusius' lawyers did not immediately reply to demands for comment. His case is due for trial in federal court in January 2024, as per MNS.
In November, Yvonne Rosales, the district attorney in charge of the state's case against Crusius, resigned after being accused of being incompetent in handling hundreds of cases in El Paso. In an effort to "restore confidence" in the community's criminal justice system, Texas Governor Greg Abbott appointed a new district attorney in December 2022.
People, as usual, were quick to take to social media, with one saying, "I'm a firm believer there are punishments worse than death. just put him in the general population and let nature take its course." A user said, "Biden is the worst. Criminals before victims." "He murdered 23 people in cold blood, planned and executed as a cold bloodied murderer racially motivated. If anyone deserves the maximum punishment, it is he. Who in the federal government decides this, they should be fired," said a user. Another added, "Good. President Biden campaigned on a federal death penalty moratorium and a promise made should always be a promise kept."
I'm a firm believer there are punishments worse than death. just put him in general population and let nature take its course.— Chris Bacon (@cjb080781) January 18, 2023
Biden is the worst. Criminals before victims.— richard head (@richard22171773) January 18, 2023
He murdered 23 people in cold blood, planned and executed as a cold bloodied murderer racially motivated. If anyone deserves the maximum punishment, it is he. Who in the federal government decides this, they should be fired— larryv (@larryncali) January 18, 2023
Good. President Biden campaigned on a federal death penalty moratorium and a promise made should always be a promise kept. https://t.co/AoKDCEQjtV— Path to Progress (@PathToProg) January 18, 2023
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