EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Monday’s scheduling hearing for state’s case against Walmart shooter didn’t produce any possible dates for the long-awaited trial and defense expressed their concerns regarding evidence filing.
409th District Court presiding Judge Sam Medrano decided to set another scheduling hearing in January after nearly an hour-long hearing.
El Paso District Attorney Bill Hicks said the state is confident that they will provide all or most of the discovery to defense by the end of December.
Discovery is all evidence, including law enforcement documents, video footage, still photographs or any recordings, considered to be evidence in the Walmart shooting case.
The state is required to provide all of the discovery to defense so they can prepare the case.
Patrick Crusius’ defense team that includes attorneys Joe Spencer, Mark Stevens and Felix Valenzuela, voiced their serious concerns over the way the state has been providing them with evidence.
Spencer told the court that the D.A.’s office has so far provided them with approximately 1 million files of evidence.
He compared over 1.4 million files that were given to them by the federal court in the federal case that, he explained, were organized by industry standards and allowed them to review them and prepare for the case in a more timely manner.
Out of those million files, Spencer said, only a portion was organized. There were many duplicates, corrupt files that could not be opened, and even a computer virus, he said.
Spencer explained this virus is able to infiltrate their computers and share information about what files were opened and looked at.
Spencer also mentioned a recording that was shared with the D.A.’s Office that included a conversation between defense attorneys and Crusius.
He explained that this recording was never supposed to be in the state’s possession.
Hicks said only one person at their office has heard the recording and is being isolated from the case.
The recording has also been turned over to defense and destroyed from state’s possession, Hicks said.
Hicks reiterated that the state would seek death penalty and will re-arraign Crusius on aggravated assault charges for multiple counts at a later date.
The defense is now urging the state to hire a vendor that would organize the numerous files and make the preparation for the trial more effective, suggesting that any prolongation of the trial would be a financial burden on the taxpayers.
Spencer said the defense is not confident that the D.A.’s Office will provide them with majority of the discovery by the end of December, adding even if they did, it would take another six to nine months for the defense’s vendor to organize the files, and then another 18 months minimum to prepare for the case.
As KTSM previously reported, Hicks was hoping to go to trial by 2024 or 2025.
Crusius has pleaded not guilty to the state’s charges.
Crusius has pleaded guilty to federal charges in the Walmart massacre in which he killed 23 people and wounded more than 20 others at the Cielo Vista Walmart on Aug. 3, 2019.
He was sentenced to 90 consecutive life terms in the federal sentencing back in July.
He is facing a possible death sentence in the state’s case.
Earlier on Monday, Crusius agreed to pay over $5 million in restitution to families and victims, as signed by U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama.
Local defense attorney Justin Underwood explained that all the dates set in Monday’s scheduling hearing are still subject to change depending on the circumstances.
Underwood explained that a scheduling hearing is used as “a roadmap as to which direction you’re going or what’s going to happen.”
“I think everything is moving as it should at this point in time,” Underwood said about the long-awaited state trial for Crusius.
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