The man who allegedly shot nearly two dozen people to death in a Walmart in Texas in 2019 plans to plead guilty to federal charges after the US government indicated it would not seek the death penalty against him.
Patrick Crusius, nonetheless, still faces state-level murder charges and could be sentenced to death if convicted in the El Paso mass shooting that targeted Mexicans and killed 23 people.
Attorneys for Crusius, 24, filed documents on Saturday notifying federal court officials of their client’s “intention to enter a plea of guilty” in the case against him. He is charged with hate and firearms crimes.
The judge, David Guaderrama, on Monday tentatively set the hearing that Crusius requested for 8 February in El Paso.
A white man from the Dallas area, Crusius turned himself over to police after the Walmart killings, admitted that he was the shooter and explained that he was aiming at Mexicans, investigators asserted in an arrest warrant. Later, prosecutors said Crusius had gone online shortly before the attack and said he was carrying it out because Latinos had invaded Texas.
Texas in actuality was once part of Mexico until American settlers opposed to a Mexican ban on slavery led a rebellion which set the stage for a war that concluded with Mexico relinquishing Texas to the US in 1848.
Crusius had pleaded not guilty to all state and federal charges against him. His expressed willingness to plead guilty to the federal charges against him comes a week after the US justice department served notice that it would not pursue execution for Crusius ahead of a trial tentatively scheduled for January 2024.
Joe Biden, before he won the White House in 2020, had promised that his administration would not use the federal death penalty.
It was not immediately clear Wednesday when Crusius’s state-level trial might be set.
News of Crusius’s looming federal guilty plea came three days after 11 people were shot to death at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, California. That shooting was the nation’s deadliest since 19 students and two teachers were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on 24 May.
The president issued a statement calling for increased gun control after the Monterey Park attack as well as two separate shootings in Half Moon Bay, California, on Monday that left seven more people dead.
Biden’s statement asked Congress to once again consider requiring people to turn 21 years of age before they could purchase assault weapons. The measure would ostensibly strength the bill Biden signed into law last year which was intended to prevent certain people who are considered dangerous from accessing firearms.
“Take action to keep American communities, schools, workplaces and homes safe,” Biden said.
The Associated Press contributed reporting
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