Federal prosecutors will not pursue the death penalty for Patrick Crusius, who was accused of fatally shooting nearly two dozen people at a West Texas Walmart in 2019. The US Department of Justice together with the federal court in El Paso released a one-sentence notice filed Tuesday, that they will not pursue capital punishment against the alleged shooter.
Patrick Crusius, 24, was charged with federal hare crimes, firearms violations, and capital murder. He was arrested after being accused of targeting Mexicans during the August 3 massacre. The incident killed 23 people and dozens were wounded. He pleaded not guilty during the state trial.
The decision of the Federal prosecutors was not explained in their court filing. The decision came weeks after Jaime Esparza took over as U.S. attorney for West Texas. He was the former district attorney in El Paso. When he was district attorney, Esparza said he would seek the death penalty in Crusius’ case. Esparza’s office sent a spokesman to question Justice Department in Washington, D.C but they declined to answer.
According to an arrest warrant, Crusius surrendered to police officers and admitted the crime saying he was the shooter and that he was targeting Mexicans.
The prosecutors’ decision has sent mixed signals on policies regarding the federal death penalty. President Joe Biden, during his presidential campaign, pledged to abolish the death penalty. He was the first president that openly opposed the death penalty.
Yvonne Rosales, the district attorney who had been leading the state case resigned last November due to being accused of incompetency involving hundreds of cases in El Paso which also slowed down the case against Crusius. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appointed a new district attorney to “restore confidence” in the local criminal justice system.
It is not clear now when Crusius might face trial on state charges but his case is set for trial in federal court in January 2024.