Legal issues in El Paso mass murder still to be addressed

El Paso shooting suspect can be tried in state or federal court

By Paul Venema - Reporter, Misael Gomez - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - The only legal issue settled so far in the wake of the El Paso mass murder that left 22 people dead and over a dozen injured is the appointment of veteran San Antonio attorney Mark Stevens (pictured, below) to represent Patrick Crusius, the shooting suspect.
 
Stevens was selected from what legal experts say is a shrinking pool of qualified attorneys.
 
"It's become so specialized and the burdens are so great by the appellate courts that there's a small pool to pick from," said former state district judge and federal prosecutor Joey Contreras.

It still hasn't been determined whether the case will be tried in state district court or federal court.
 
"It can be both. Under the law, they're separate sovereigns and they both can prosecute him," Contreras said. "By whatever the jurisdiction, I anticipate the death penalty. The crime is just off the scale."


 
The case will likely be presented before a grand jury in El Paso County. A change of venue for the trial, although not popular, is almost a certainty.
 
"I know that the El Paso community, I imagine, desperately wants that man tried in their community," Contreras said.
 
He said that San Antonio, either in state for federal court, will almost certainly be considered as a trial site option.
 
"I don't see this thing moving real quickly," he said. "I think everyone is going to be real deliberate about it."
 
Contreras guessed that it will be at least a year and a half before the case goes to trial.

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