EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — President Joe Biden nominated former lone-time El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas Friday.

The position is the top federal prosecutor for federal cases in the Western District of Texas, spanning from Austin and San Antonio to El Paso.

Esparza served as District Attorney in El Paso from 1993 to 2020, when he stepped down. As a district attorney, Esparza secured the state’s capital murder indictment of suspected Walmart shooter Patrick Crusius. If confirmed, Esparza would become a key figure in deciding whether to pursue the death penalty against Crusius. Federal prosecutors agreed on January 17, 2023, as the date to decide on whether to seek the death penalty in that case.

According to legal experts, the decision to seek the federal death penalty falls to senior Justice Department officials, usually based on a recommendation from the U.S. attorney. President Biden has said he is opposed to the death penalty and previously vowed to end its use while in office.

U.S. Congresswoman Veronica Escobar submitted a nomination for Esparza in January 2021. Her nomination was among other recommendations from LULAC, The National Narcotic Officer’s Association’s Coalition, the Texas Council on Family Violence, the Texas Gang Investigator’s Association, and the Texas Narcotic Officers Association.

“I am proud to support the nomination of El Pasoan and former District Attorney of 28 years Jaime Esparza for the position of U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas. I have consistently sought to elevate El Pasoans to important positions within our government and am grateful to President Biden for supporting our community with yet another El Paso nominee,” Escobar said in a prepared statement.  

Congresswoman Escobar praised Esparza’s Domestic Violence 24-hour project and his implementation of the DIMS program, which reduced arrests by 20 percent in El Paso County. Escobar praised Esparza, saying he “has been a strong advocate for crime victims and will serve honorably as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas.”

If confirmed, Esparza will also decide whether to bring criminal charges against Texas Attorney General Kem Paxton.