District Attorney’s Office wants alleged Walmart mass shooter to appear at next hearing and to recuse current judge from case
EL PASO, Texas (KTEP) - The El Paso County District Attorney’s Office wants the accused Walmart mass shooter to attend a hearing next week and for the judge overseeing the case to be recused.
Curtis Cox, a senior member of the district attorney’s office, filed the motion on Friday to remove District Court Judge Sam Medrano from overseeing the El Paso Walmart shooting case.
Earlier this week, Cox also asked for the accused gunman to appear for Tuesday’s hearing and for judge Medrano to schedule a trial date for the mass shooting case.
Patrick Crusius, is charged with killing 23 shoppers and injuring at least 23 others in the August 3, 2019 attack at the El Paso store. Crusius was 21-years old when he drove from North Texas to carry out the mass shooting and told police when they arrested him he came to “stop the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
He’s in federal custody at the downtown jail and has not made a public appearance since a federal arraignment hearing in Feb. 2020.
“Since the state has filed its notice of intent to seek the death penalty, it would seem imperative that the defendant be present during all hearings, especially since the State of Texas is actively seeking the death penalty, while the United State of America has not yet decided to do so,” according to Cox’s notice states.
Joe Spencer, one of Crusius’ attorneys said he could not comment because of a gag order imposed by the judge in July.
The filings from the district attorney’s office come ahead of a status hearing scheduled for Tuesday. Judge Sam Medrano postponed an earlier hearing to address a possible violation of the gag order.
The hearing was set after a mystery email was sent to El Paso news organizations. It was allegedly from the son of Alexander Gerhard Hoffman, who was killed during the Walmart shooting. The email’s address appeared to come from Hoffman’s widow Rosa Valdez and was signed by Hoffman’s son.
Elise Hoffman has denied her brother Alexander Whelm Hoffman wrote the email. She said the language used would be unfamiliar to her brother who is “not fluent and eloquent in the English language…”
I do not believe this was written by any of my family members,”Elise Hoffman
She also said it does not reflect her family’s experience in the aftermath of the mass shooting. “The district attorney in El Paso, FBI, and other authorities, from the get-go were nothing but supportive and outstanding. I am appalled by this email, and I … do not believe this was written by… any of my family members,” Elise Hoffman wrote.
A filing by the DA's office on Friday, claimed that Valdez and Hoffman were legally divorced under Mexican law in 2001 and before the time of his death. And, that because they were divorced, she should be considered his ex-wife and not widow.
The filing states that as Hoffman's widow, Valdez "thus appears to have no standing this case."
It also states that Valdez and Hoffman had two biological sons Alexander Wilhelm Hoffman and Thomas Hoffman. And, claim that Elise Hoffman is not the biological daughter of the two.
The email attacked El Paso attorney Amanda Enriquez, a deputy public defender and potential candidate in the 2024 race for district attorney. The email accused Enriquez of “using the case for political purposes,” and threatened a complaint against her with the State Bar of Texas.
It also alleged complaints and a grievance were filed against judge Medrano because of events during a July 1 hearing. Judge Medrano sternly questioned DA Rosales about her statement to the media that the case would go to trial in the summer of 2023.
“This court continues to prepare for the trial of this case but this course is not going to interfere with the federal trial that has been scheduled in January of 2024,”District Court Judge Sam Medrano
“This court continues to prepare for the trial of this case but this course is not going to interfere with the federal trial that has been scheduled in January of 2024,” Medrano told Rosales during the July 1 hearing.
District Attorney Yvonne Rosales, Village of Vinton municipal judge Rogelio “Roger” Rodriguez and attorney John Briggs were subpoenaed to attend Tuesday’s hearing by attorney Justin Underwood.
Judge Medrano appointed Underwood to represent the Hoffman’s in Tuesday’s hearing, according to court documents.
Rosales abruptly fired Briggs in late August along with special prosecutor Monica Barron-Auger. The two were lead attorneys in the Walmart shooting case and Barron-Auger was hired through a special grant to work solely on the case.
Curtis Cox, a senior member of the district attorney’s office, argued in recent court filings that Underwood cannot subpoena anyone because the family has allegedly rejected his representation.
Instead, Cox said Jose Morales, an attorney in Mexico, is now representing the Hoffman family. It is unclear if Morales can practice law in El Paso.
The State Bar of Texas’ attorney search did not have information on an attorney named Jose Morales in El Paso or Mexico.
In an email filing with the court, Morales told Cox the Hoffman family has no intention of returning for court hearings because “they do not feel safe.” Morales wrote he would report Underwood or the court to Mexican authorities if they continued to reach out to them.
“They reject the appointment of this lawyer Justin Underwood, who they know to not have their best interests,” the email from Morales says.
Underwood declined to comment on the email from Morales.
It’s unclear why Vinton municipal judge Rogelio “Roger” Rodriguez was subpoenaed by Underwood to appear during Tuesday’s hearing. But Rodriguez represented the DA’s Office last year in a hearing before the Texas Ethics Commission to determine if civil forfeiture funds were spent correctly.