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As El Paso Survivors Struggle, Defendant Pleads Not Guilty

Victims' relatives attend brief hearing
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2019 6:05 PM CDT
Patrick Crusius is arraigned Thursday in El Paso, charged with capital murder.   (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP,Pool)

(Newser) – The man charged with killing 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso appeared in court Thursday, pleading not guilty to capital murder charges. He told the judge he didn't want the charges read to him, USA Today reports. Police documents said that he had confessed to the Aug. 3 shootings, which also wounded 26 people, immediately after his arrest. Police also said he told them he'd driven 11 hours from his home outside Dallas with the intention of killing Mexicans, per NPR. He could be sentenced to death if convicted. Authorities are still weighing filing hate crimes charges against him. At least 40 relatives of victims attended the three-minute hearing, and many cried when the defendant walked in, per CNN.

More than two months after the shooting, a co-founder of a volunteer group that helps survivors said, "We're still asking, 'why?'" The surviving victims "are probably suffering more than ever," she said, "because now it's a combination of the grief and all of the practical things that happen after a shooting like this." One 58-year-old survivor said she only recently worked up the courage to resume grocery shopping, but she still can't get herself to go outside alone. She said she's "trying to forget that evil" but not succeeding. "There's something stuck between my soul and my heart," Sylvia Saucedo said. "My soul, my spirit — it's bruised." (Read more El Paso shooting stories.)

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