EL PASO, Texas (El Paso Matters) — The man accused of murdering 23 people at an El Paso Walmart in 2019 will plead guilty to federal hate crimes charges, his attorneys said in a court filing on Saturday.
The announcement comes four days after the Justice Department announced that it would not seek the death penalty in federal charges against Patrick Crusius. The Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting was the deadliest attack targeting Hispanics in the nation’s history.
The announcement that Crusius would plead guilty was in a motion filed by defense attorney Felix Valenzuela asking that his client be re-arraigned on the federal charges.
“Comes now, Defendant Patrick Wood Crusius, by and through his attorneys, and respectfully moves the Court to set the instant case for a Rearrangement Hearing at the Court’s convenience; Defendant notifies the Court of his intention to enter a plea of guilty to the pending Indictment,” the motion stated.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office hasn’t yet responded to the motion. U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama, who is presiding over the federal charges, has not scheduled a date for re-arraignment.
Crusius, 24, of Allen, Texas, is charged with 23 counts of hate crime resulting in death, 23 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder in a crime of violence, 22 counts of hate crime in an attempt to kill, and 22 counts of use of a firearm during a crime of violence. With the death penalty off the table, the maximum federal sentence he faces is life in prison.
His federal trial has been scheduled for January 2024.
Crusius also faces state charges that include 23 counts of capital murder, which potentially carry the death penalty. No trial date has been set on the state charges, though 409th District Judge Sam Medrano Jr. has scheduled a status hearing on Wednesday
In court, Crusius’ attorneys have said he has mental illness that would preclude the death penalty.
Law-enforcement officials have said that Crusius drove 10 hours from North Texas to El Paso on Aug. 3, 2019, before stopping at the Cielo Vista Walmart, where he opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle in the parking lot and in the store.
Moments before he began shooting, Crusius allegedly posted a screed on a website popular with white supremacists saying the attack was “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”