EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The state trial against accused mass murderer Patrick Wood Crusius likely won’t get going until 2025, El Paso County District Attorney Bill Hicks said.
“I’m not sure 2024. Maybe 2025. I’m not sure. We have to meet again in order to discuss that,” Hicks said after a status hearing behind closed doors in El Paso with 409th District Court Judge Sam Medrano.
Crusius is accused of fatally shooting 23 people and wounding another 23 during an alleged racially motivated attack at the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall on Aug. 3, 2019. The shooter allegedly posted an online manifesto decrying the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” He allegedly drove 10 hours from Allen, Texas, to El Paso to commit the crime.
The suspect’s lawyers on Saturday notified the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas of their client’s intention to plead guilty to federal charges. The motion came days after the U.S. Attorney’s Office made it public last week it would not be pursuing the death penalty on 45 charges of hate crimes against Crusius. A re-arraignment hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8 in U.S. federal court.
Hicks on Wednesday said he had “a very good discussion” with defense attorneys and Medrano.
“The defense is very focused on finishing up the federal case and the state, of course, is very focused on continuing our efforts to be prepared to go forward with the state case,” he said outside the courtroom.
Hicks said the judge is keeping in place a gag order that bans stakeholders from discussing details of the case in public.
Hicks who was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott in December to replace Yvonne Rosales as head of Texas’ 34th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, said he is confident he has the team of prosecutors in place to effectively litigate the state case. “Absolutely. We still have some positions to fill, but we’re on track,” he said.
Crusius’ attorneys were not immediately available for comment.