Accused El Paso shooter will plead guilty to federal hate crime charges

The man accused of murdering 23 people at an El Paso Walmart in 2019 will plead guilty to federal hate crimes charges, his attorneys said in a court filing on Saturday.

The announcement comes four days after the U.S. Justice Department announced that it would not seek the death penalty in federal charges against Patrick Crusius. The Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting was the deadliest attack targeting Hispanics in the nation’s history.

The announcement that Crusius would plead guilty was in a motion filed by defense attorney Felix Valenzuela asking that his client be re-arraigned on the federal charges. 

READ MORE: El Paso Walmart shooting suspect won’t face death penalty, DOJ says

U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama on Monday set the re-arraignment for 10 a.m., Feb. 8.

Crusius, 24, of Allen, is charged with 23 counts of hate crime resulting in death, 23 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder in a crime of violence, 22 counts of hate crime in an attempt to kill, and 22 counts of use of a firearm during a crime of violence. With the death penalty off the table, the maximum federal sentence he faces is life in prison.

His federal trial has been scheduled for January 2024.

Crusius also faces state charges that include 23 counts of capital murder, which potentially carry the death penalty. No trial date has been set on the state charges, though 409th District Judge Sam Medrano Jr. has scheduled a status hearing on Wednesday.

In court, Crusius’ attorneys have said he has a mental illness that would preclude the death penalty.

Law enforcement officials have said that Crusius drove 10 hours from North Texas to El Paso before stopping at the Cielo Vista Walmart, where he opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle in the parking lot and in the store.

Moments before he began shooting, Crusius allegedly posted a screed on a website popular with white supremacists saying the attack was "a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas."

This article first appeared in the Texas Tribune. Read more here.