LAX shooting: Prosecutors expect death penalty decision by early January

Federal prosecutors expect to know by early January whether they'll seek the death penalty against the 24-year-old man charged in last year's fatal shooting at Los Angeles International Airport

Prosecutors told a judge Monday that they were still waiting to hear from the Justice Department regarding their case against Paul Anthony Ciancia. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder will ultimately decide whether to pursue the death penalty against the New Jersey native.

The next hearing in Ciancia's case is scheduled for Jan. 5.

Prosecutors had previously said that they expected the decision by mid-November.


Ciancia was charged with 11 felony counts in the Nov. 1, 2013, attack, including murder and attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Authorities say Ciancia opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle at the airport's Terminal 3 the morning of Nov. 1, killing Transportation Security Administration Officer Gerardo I. Hernandez and wounding three other people. 

Hernandez, 39, was the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty since the agency was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Ciancia allegedly targeted TSA employees during the shooting -- investigators said they found a note signed by Ciancia saying he wanted to kill TSA agents and "instill fear in their traitorous minds." Witnesses to the shooting said the gunman asked whether they worked for the TSA before moving on.

Ciancia was shot in the head and leg during a gun battle with airport police, and spent two weeks recovering at a hospital before he was transferred to a federal detention center in downtown Los Angeles. He remains in custody there.

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