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Sentencing hearing for El Paso Walmart shooter to begin in early July

A memorial at El Paso's Ponder Park honoring the victims of the mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart in 2019
Julian Aguilar/The Texas Newsroom
A memorial at El Paso's Ponder Park honoring the victims of the mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart in 2019

The federal sentencing hearing for the man convicted of killing 23 people at an El Paso Walmart during a racism-fueled rampage in 2019 will begin after the July Fourth holiday.

The hearing was originally scheduled to begin June 30 but will now start July 5 after U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama agreed to delay the sentencing portion of the case “to lessen logistical burdens and to allow the greatest number of people to attend the entire proceedings,” according to the order signed Tuesday.

The hearing will begin with a discussion on the government’s presentence report at 9 a.m., followed in the afternoon by victims’ statements, which are expected to last up to two days, according to the order. The sentencing will take place at 10 a.m. the first business day after the final impact statement, which means it could occur Monday, July 10, if the statements conclude the previous Friday.

The sentencing comes after the gunman, Patrick Crusius, pleaded guilty on Feb. 8 to 90 federal hate crime and firearm charges. Crusius drove from Allen, a suburb of Dallas, to the Walmart in east-central El Paso on Aug. 3,,2019, armed with a semi-automatic weapon. A manifesto posted online before the shooting, which law enforcement attributed to the gunman, warned against a Hispanic takeover of the country and government, labeling it an “invasion.”

“In it, he characterized himself as a white nationalist, motivated to kill Hispanics because they were immigrating to the United States,” the Department of Justice said in a statement earlier this year. “Crusius admitted to selecting El Paso, a border city, as his target to dissuade Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants from coming to the United States.”

As part of a plea agreement reached between Crusius and the federal government, he agreed to accept a possible 90 life sentences – one for each count in the indictment, according to the DOJ. That includes 23 hate crimes for each of the people he murdered.

Even years later, the massacre continues to haunt some in this border town who are still grappling with the fact that an outsider targeted their community and was motivated by hate speech about Latinos and immigrants.

“Nothing can undo the immeasurable loss suffered by the loved ones of the victims of that attack or the terror inflicted on the El Paso community in its wake,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in February. “[The] action makes clear that the Justice Department will not tolerate hate-fueled violence that endangers the safety of our communities.”