EL PASO, Texas -- The man accused of killing 22 people and injuring two dozen more in a shooting rampage at an El Paso Walmart last August has been assigned two new attorneys to defend him in federal court.
David A. Lane from Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP out of Denver, Colorado and Rebecca L. Hudsmith from Lafayette, Louisiana will take up Patrick Crusius's case. She is with the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Western and Middle Districts of Louisiana. Court records show both have extensive experience in federal death penalty cases.
ABC-7 on Tuesday learned custody of Crusius has been transferred from the state of Texas to the U.S. Marshal Service ahead of Wednesday's hearing in federal court in El Paso. A hearing in state court that was scheduled for Thursday was postponed.
Lane on Tuesday requested the federal judge issue an order preventing Crusius from being exposed to public view as he's being taken from the El Paso County jail to the federal courthouse, sometimes referred to as a "perp walk."
He argued the U.S. Marshals and federal prosecutors have the ability to take him from one building to another in downtown El Paso without being seen. The defense attorney cited security reasons and the enormous likelihood of his being harmed given the notoriety of the allegations against him.
"Obviously tremendous prejudice and enormous risk to Mr. Crusius's life would result if he is paraded around in public, shackled like a circus animal on a chain as he is being transported to and from court," the defense motion stated.
The motion cited a previous instance during the prosecution of five El Paso Independent School District educators accused in a cheating scheme as a "reprehensible" example of exposing defendants in a 'perp walk' for no reason 'other than to humiliate defendants.'"
The defense also asked the judge to prevent Crusius from appearing in shackles and in jail clothing, which they said should be scrutinized given that this is a capital case.
"Shackling carries the message that the state and the judge think the defendant is dangerous, even in the courtroom," read the motion, citing an appeals court decision from 1994.
The defense argued those procedures would deprive Crusius of his right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence.
While prosecutors didn't object to skipping the "perp walk," they did argue Crusius should be handcuffed.
"It is the Government's position that the United States Marshals Service (USMS), in conjunction with this Court, should ultimately decide the best manner in which the Defendant should be transported and how he should appear in court," the prosecution wrote. "In this circumstance, legitimate public safety and security issues justify this basic and standard safety protocol given the nature of the alleged offenses with which the Defendant is charged."
Federal prosecutors have not officially notified the federal court whether they will seek the death penalty, but U.S. Attorney John Bash has said prosecutors intend to do so.
Late Tuesday, federal Judge David Guaderrama ordered Crusius be shielded from the public during his transport to the federal courthouse.