A man accused of killing 23 people at a Walmart store in El Paso in 2019 pleads guilty to federal hate crime charges, his lawyers said in court on Saturday.
The announcement comes four days after the Justice Department announced it would not seek the death penalty on federal charges against Patrick Crusius. The mass shooting on August 3, 2019 was the deadliest attack on Hispanics in the country’s history.
The statement that Crusius pleads guilty was in a motion filed by defense attorney Felix Valenzuela asking for his client’s retrial on federal charges.
“Now, Defendant Patrick Wood Crusius, through his attorneys and through his attorneys, respectfully invites the court to schedule a reappointment hearing at a convenient time for the court; The defendant notifies the court of his intention to plead guilty to the indictment,” the petition reads.
The US Attorney’s Office has not yet responded to the petition. U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama, who is presiding over the federal charges, has not set a date for the reappointment.
Crusius, 24, of Allen, is charged with 23 counts of hate crime resulting in death, 23 counts of using a firearm to commit murder in a violent crime, 22 counts of hate crime in attempted murder, and 22 counts of using a firearm during a violent crime. With the death penalty out of the question, the maximum federal penalty he faces is life in prison.
His federal trial is scheduled for January 2024.
Crusius also faces state charges, including 23 counts of capital murder, which potentially carry the death penalty. A trial date has not been set for the state’s charge, although 409th Circuit Judge Sam Medrano, Jr. has set a status hearing for Wednesday.
In court, Crusius’ lawyers said he had a mental illness that ruled out the death penalty.
Law enforcement officials said Crusius drove 10 hours from North Texas to El Paso on August 3, 2019, before stopping at a Cielo Vista Walmart where he opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle in a parking lot and store.
Moments before he started shooting, Crusius allegedly posted a message on a website popular with white supremacists saying that the attack was “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
This report was originally published El Paso Mattersa non-partisan, member-supported media organization.