State district judge issues gag order in El Paso Walmart mass shooting case

  • In US
  • 2022-07-02 00:24:26Z
  • By The El Paso Times

Editor's note: This report was updated to correctly identify the defense lawyer who spoke.

State District Court Judge Sam Medrano on Friday issued a gag order for the attorneys involved in the case of Walmart mass shooting defendant Patrick Crusius.

At the hearing, Medrano said he is concerned about the impact of statements made to news media by El Paso District Attorney Yvonne Rosales' office last week about when she wants to take the case to trial.

The judge said he is concerned the news releases might impact potential jurors. The gag order bars attorneys on both sides from discussing anything about the case publicly.

"The grandstanding ends today," Medrano said in issuing the gag order.

More: El Paso District Attorney's Office announces $3 million state grant for Walmart shooting trial cost

Crusius is accused of killing 23 people and injuring dozens of others on Aug. 3, 2019, in a racist attack targeting Hispanic shoppers at a Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall. He faces charges in two jurisdictions: state district court and federal court.

Crusius faces 90 federal charges, including 45 hate crimes, in connection with the mass shooting.

He is charged in state court with one count of capital murder of multiple persons and 22 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

He was not present during Friday morning's proceedings.

Rosales told the Dallas Morning News on June 27 that she wanted to try the state case in summer 2023. She made the statement days after U.S. District Judge David C. Guaderrama ordered a federal trial of Crusius for Jan. 8, 2024.

"I don't know what the media put out, your honor," Rosales said in the hearing. "All I know is that I was asked to go to trial on the state side, and I did clearly inform them that we were going to be approaching the court along with opposing counsel to request a court date."

A dedication ceremony takes place Aug.
A dedication ceremony takes place Aug.  

The 20-minute hearing at the Enrique Moreno County Courthouse in Downtown El Paso ended without Medrano setting a date for the trial to begin in the 409th District Court.

More: El Paso's state lawmakers say abortion, guns among key issues at next legislative session

Rosales said it would take two to three months to "actually sit down" for the presentation of evidence. Crusius' attorneys countered the process would take six to eight months.

"There is no way that we can also prepare for a state case as well as a federal case," said defense attorney Joe Spencer.

Medrano grilled Rosales over her office's slow response to prosecute the case.

"The worst kept secret in the legal community is that you are actively seeking, interviewing and attempting to hire out-of-town lawyers that will be prosecuting this case," Medrano said, adding that Rosales' office hasn't made a single filing on the case since she took office.

In May, Rosales said her office secured an additional $1.5 million from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's office to cover prosecution costs.

Defense attorneys said there had been no discussions with them from Rosales' office about a potential trial.

This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: District judge issues gag order in El Paso Walmart mass shooting case


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