By Geraldyn Berry
12:22 PM –Friday, July 7, 2023
90 consecutive life sentences were handed down to the Texas man who killed 23 people at an El Paso Walmart in a targeted shooting against individuals of Mexican origin.
In February 8th, Patrick Crusius, of Allen, Texas pled guilty to 90 federal counts, including 45 counts of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and 45 firearm counts thus consenting to the consecutive life terms.
Initially, the gunman had entered a not-guilty plea to the federal counts, but he later altered his plea in February once it became clear that the prosecution would not pursue the death sentence.
Texas prosecutors have said that they will try to put Crusius on death row when he stands trial in state court. That trial date has not yet been set.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights, Eric Dreiband, called the mass shooting, and other acts of hate like it, heinous crimes intended to terrorize and intimidate.
After two days of victim impact statements, during which the victims’ families confronted Crusius personally, U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama delivered the verdict.
“You left children without their parents, you left spouses without their spouses, and we still need them,” Bertha Benavides said, the wife of one of the victims.
The judge had also requested that he be treated for his mental illness and transported to ADX Florence, a maximum-security prison in Fremont County, Colorado.
Crusius’ attorney, Joe Spencer, told the judge before the sentencing that his client has a “broken brain” as Crusius had become alarmed by his own violent thoughts.
“Patrick’s thinking is at odds with reality … resulting in delusional thinking,” Spencer said. “Patrick acted with his broken brain cemented in delusions.”
On Saturday, August 3, 2019, while armed with a WASR-10, Crusius drove over 600 miles from North Texas to El Paso with, what authorities say, was the sole intention of killing Mexican people and immigrants. He opened fire at the Walmart killing 23 people and injuring 22 others. The 23rd victim, Guillermo “Memo” Garcia, was injured and died in a hospital in April 2020, almost nine months after the shooting.
Prior to the shooting, reports say that Crusius had ranted online, warning about a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
According to the indictment, Crusius had purchased the weapon along with 1,000 rounds of 7.62mm hollow-point ammunition almost two months before the attack.
In the aftermath of the deadly event, U.S. attorney Ian Hann had said that the people who were killed ranged in age from a 15-year-old high school athlete to several elderly grandparents.