EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Lawyers for the man accused of gunning down 22 people at the El Paso Walmart in August said they will do everything they can to save his life.
Patrick Crusius, 21, pleaded “not guilty” to multiple capital murder charges during his brief arraignment in court Thursday.
This was the first time Crusius appeared in court since his Aug. 3 arrest. He appeared before Judge Sam Medrano in the 409th District Court, where he waived having the charges read to him.
El Paso lawyer Joe Spencer and San Antonio lawyer Mark Stevens make up the defense team. They wouldn’t speak about Crusius’ not-guilty plea.
“The lives of countless people in this area in Texas and Mexico have been impacted tragically. It’s our feeling that if we talk too much about it in the press, it’s libel to make there pain worse,” Stevens said.
However, they say everyone needs to hear both sides of the story.
“People who were nowhere near this place have already made up their mind about what should happen,” Stevens said.
Before Thursday’s arraignment, El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza said he would seek the death penalty in this case. However, Crusius’ defense attorneys say they don’t morally agree with the death penalty.
“Mark (Stevens) and I will use every breath we have to try and save Patrick’s life and I much rather use every breath we have to save his life than to take his life,” Spencer said.
Investigators said Crusius told police he drove to El Paso from the upscale Dallas suburb of Allen, Texas, with the intent of targeting Mexicans. Crusius allegedly entered the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall with an AK-47 military-style weapon and killed 22 people and wounded another 25.
On Thursday, relatives of victims of the Aug. 3 shooting filled the courtroom. There was silence as everyone waited for Crusius to enter. After the arraignment, many left the courtroom in tears.
The arraignment lasted less than two minutes. The next time Crusius will appear in court will be on Nov. 7.