Decision on seeking death penalty for accused LAX shooter due by fall
Federal prosecutors expect to know by mid-November whether they’ll seek the death penalty against the 24-year-old man accused in last year’s deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport.
Prosecutors told a judge Monday that their case regarding Paul Ciancia -- charged with 11 felony counts in the Nov. 1 attack, including murder and attempted murder -- was under review by the Department of Justice, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.
Atty. Gen. Eric Holder will ultimately decide whether the government will seek the death penalty for Ciancia, who pleaded not guilty to the charges last year.
Prosecutors told the judge they expected a final decision from the Department of Justice by mid-November, Mrozek said. No trial date has been set in the case. Ciancia is due back in court Dec. 8 for a status conference.
Authorities allege 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 attack -- 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 released into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. He is currently being held at a federal detention center in downtown Los Angeles.
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