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Patrick Crusius death penalty decision has left a ray of emotions

The El Paso Walmart shooter, Patrick Crusius pleads guilty to the 2019 shooting. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Aug. 3, 2019, was a day marked by a tragedy in the borderland; when Patrick Crusius entered a Walmart on the east side shooting 23 people, wounding 23 more. The El Paso community, along with the relatives and friends of the victims, demanded justice on their behalf after one of the worst attacks against Latinos in recent history and an act of domestic terrorism.  

In response to their pleas, a Texas grand jury indicted 21-year-old Crusius with capital murder on Sept. 12, 2019. Crusius issued a not-guilty plea during his first hearing in October at the El Paso County Courthouse that same year. 

At the time, it was unclear what charges the federal government would bring against Crusius, although he was indicted in Texas. However, on Feb. 6, 2020, he was charged with 90 federal offenses for his crimes; as a result, many families and the El Paso community were eased that Crusius would be held accountable for his heinous actions.  

However, federal prosecutors now have decided not to seek the death penalty receiving mixed emotions from the El Paso community about the decision.  

“I don’t agree with the death penalty, I think he needs to serve a sentence for each victim,” said El Paso native Karla Lara. “He needs to stay there and not have an opportunity to get out even with bail, he doesn’t deserve that.”  

Only 27 states have the death penalty as a legal punishment, which makes it slightly controversial for some people who believe it is an easy way out for the offender.  

“I think that is the easy way, they are going to kill him and that’s it. He needs to suffer for what he did,” Lara said.  

UTEP student Diana Martinez shared her thoughts regarding this topic. 

“Thats not fair, they should give an example to other people that are planning to do the same thing, so I disagree with it,” Martinez said.  

First Assistant US Attorney Margaret Leachman left out the reasoning on why federal prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty in the brief filing. The Texas district attorney’s office, however, did file a notice last summer stating they would seek the death penalty.  

“He’s going to get what he deserves in jail,” said El Paso native Viridiana Santillan.  “I don’t know my certain opinion on the death penalty because I do go where some people do deserve it and some others do not, so he doesn’t deserve it cause he’s going to get what he deserves in jail.” 

The trial date for Crusius was set for March 2025 with a possibility of it still being later on; though federal prosecutors now scheduled his trial for the following year in January 2024. 

 Less than two weeks after the death penalty decision, Patrick Crusius has now pleaded guilty to the federal charges. 

Although the case’s federal and state charges have advanced, it is still unknown when Crusius will go to trial for state charges. His decision to enter a guilty plea to state charges are still up in the air, and defense attorneys asked for a hearing to be scheduled for Feb. 8 in El Paso. 

Erik Acosta is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected] 



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About the Contributor
Erik Acosta, Web/Copy Editor
Erik Acosta is a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in theatre. Erik started working at The Prospector as staff reporter spring 2023, and now serves as the web and copy editor.
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Patrick Crusius death penalty decision has left a ray of emotions