by Robert Moore, El Paso Matters
May 24, 2023
Formal sentencing will begin June 30 for the man who killed 23 people and wounded 22 others in a 2019 white supremacist attack at an El Paso Walmart.
Patrick Crusius, 24, will give his allocution that day, the first time he will be required to publicly describe his actions and motives on Aug. 3, 2019, when he drove 10 hours from North Texas to El Paso, then opened fire with his AR-15 rifle in the Cielo Vista Walmart parking lot and store.
The sentencing schedule was set Wednesday by U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama.
The judge will receive a pre-sentence report on June 30, prepared by the U.S. Probation Office. The report provides extensive information about the defendant, including criminal history, mental health status, as well as detailed information about the impact of the crime on victims.
The outcome of the U.S. District Court sentencing is not in doubt – Crusius will receive 90 consecutive life sentences based on an agreement with prosecutors that led to his guilty plea on Feb. 8 to federal hate crimes and gun charges.
Because the federal criminal justice system does not offer parole, Crusius almost certainly will spend the rest of his life in prison. Crusius still faces state capital murder charges that could result in the death penalty.
The federal sentencing hearing likely will last days, and possibly a couple of weeks. Victims of the Aug. 3, 2019, shooting at the Cielo Vista Walmart – those who were wounded, and family members of those killed – will be able to testify about the impact of the crimes on their lives.
The victim impact statements will begin on July 5. The formal sentencing will begin at 10 a.m. on the day following the last victim impact statement, Guaderrama’s order said.
Federal prosecutors decided in January not to seek the death penalty in the case, but did not give any reasons.
At Crusius’ guilty plea, prosecutor Ian Hanna hinted that mental health played a role. He said defense experts had diagnosed Crusius with schizoaffective disorder, a mental health condition marked by hallucinations or delusions as well as mood disorders.
Shortly before opening fire at the Walmart, Crusius posted a screed on the internet filled with white supremacist rantings. He said he was attacking the Walmart, filled with Saturday shoppers, to “stop the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
In the years since the shooting, Republican political leaders and media figures have increasingly described increased migration at the border as an invasion.