Dallas DA to seek death penalty for suspect in police murder

- Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson will seek the death penalty for the man accused of killing a Dallas police officer inside Home Depot last month.

A grand jury handed down indictments Tuesday for 30-year-old Armando Juarez. He was indicted for capital murder, attempted capital murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and two counts of aggravated assault of a deadly weapon on a public servant.

On April 24, Juarez was questioned about stealing from the Home Depot store on Forrest Lane. An off-duty officer who works part-time at the store realized he had a warrant for car theft and called for on-duty officers to respond.

Body camera footage shows officers Rogelio Santander and Crystal Almeida attempting to place Juarez in custody. He removed his hands from his pockets, drew a handgun and started firing.

Officer Santander was killed. Officer Almeida and Home Depot loss prevention employee Scott Painter were also shot. They are now home from the hospital recovering.

Juarez was able to escape, but he was ultimately arrested at the end of a massive manhunt and police chase.

DA Johnson said she carefully reviewed the evidence and circumstances in the case when considering whether or not to pursue the death penalty for Juarez. Other factors included his criminal history. This is the first notice of death that has been filed under her leadership.

“We considered all kinds of factors, not only the offense itself,” she said. “We considered history. We considered circumstances. We considered everything that took place leading up to that.”

Defense attorney Barry Sorrels is not involved in the case. He says the defense will try to find reasons to convince a jury that Juarez should not be put to death.

“There’s going to be a treasure trove of evidence on guilt or innocence in this case for the state,” he said. “So as a defense attorney, that’s not where you fight your battle.”

Sorrels says there could be life issues that might make a realistic argument against sentencing Juarez to death.

“If you put this horrendous crime in the context of this defendant’s life, it would make sense to give him life without the possibility of parole as opposed to the death penalty,” he said.

No trial date has been set. The case has been assigned to Judge Brandon Birmingham's court.

RELATED: Dallas officer killed in Home Depot shooting; suspect charged with murder

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