Shooter who killed 23 at Texas Walmart awaits federal sentence


(Reuters) – The white nationalist who targeted Hispanics when he killed nearly two dozen people at a Walmart store in a Texas border city in 2019 is likely to be sentenced on Friday, having already agreed to accept 90 consecutive life terms when he pleaded guilty.

The sentencing by U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama in El Paso follows two days of emotional testimony from witnesses, some of the 22 wounded survivors, and relatives of the 23 dead who delivered impact statements in the presence of the shooter, Patrick Crusius, 24.

Crusius pleaded guilty in February to 90 counts including 23 counts of hate crime resulting in death under a plea agreement that allowed him to avoid the federal death penalty. He still could be sentenced to death on pending state charges.

Even with the plea agreement, the judge conducted proceedings where witnesses poured out their emotions, expressing hatred for the shooter while revealing their own personal grief.

“I want you dead,” said Genesis Davila, who was 12 years old and present while her soccer coach was killed and her father was wounded.

She looked directly at the shooter and told him, “I hate you so much. Hell has a special place for you,” KVIA television reported.

Thomas Hoffman, who lost his father, Alexander Hoffman, called the shooter an “evil parasite” and said, “You are nothing without your weapon,” the Dallas Morning News reported.

Prosecutors said the shooter drove more than 600 miles (1,000 km) overnight from suburban Dallas to El Paso, carrying out the massacre on Aug. 3, 2019, using a Romanian derivative of the AK-47 rifle and hollow-point ammunition.

Just before the assault, the shooter posted on the internet a manifesto that declared, “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by the invasion.”

The shooter’s attorney, Joe Spencer, said he could not comment until after sentencing. At the time of the guilty plea in February, Spencer told reporters, “There are no winners in this case. He’s going to be serving 90 consecutive life sentences.”

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California; Editing by Mark Porter)

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