EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14) — The accused Walmart shooter pleaded not guilty in court Thursday afternoon.
The arraignment hearing for Patrick Crusius was held at the El Paso County Courthouse at 2 p.m.
Crusius, who was not restrained, stood before Judge Sam Medrano with his attorneys, Joe Spencer, Mark Stevens, and the prosecutor, El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza, by his side.
It was the first time the public saw Crusius.
He raised his arm swearing to tell the truth during his court proceedings.
Crusius was indicted on capital murder charges for the deaths of 22 people on Aug. 3 at the Cielo Vista Walmart.
Investigators said Crusius told officers that he was targeting Mexicans in the attack.
Crusius was arrested a few blocks away from the scene shortly after the mass shooting.
The 21-year-old man from Allen, Texas looked at the indictment during the hearing and verified that his name was on the document.
"Not guilty," he said, when Medrano asked him to enter his plea.
The entire hearing lasted less than three minutes.
In the courtroom, there were tears from some of the family members and injured victims who were in attendance.
A conference setting is scheduled for Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. Medrano explained to KFOX14 that Crusius won't return to the court until the Spring, in what he said is sure to be a years long process.
KFOX14 anchor Robert Holguin sat in the courtroom and described what he and loved ones of the victims witnessed during the hearing.
The case was reassigned to Medrano after presiding Judge Angie Barril said she could not hear the case because she knew one of the victims and would not be seeking reelection.
Crusius has been jailed in isolation since his arrest. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said he was put on suicide watch two weeks after the shooting.
Federal prosecutors are also seeking hate crime charges against Crusius.
The defense team for Crusius spoke following the arraignment hearing. Attorneys Joe Spencer and Mark Stevens explained that the not guilty plea is an effort to fight the death penalty in this case, which prosecutors said they will seek.
“I will tell you that this community needs healing and closure and the quickest way to that is not the death penalty. I will tell you that Mark and I will use every breath that we have to save Patrick’s life,"said Spencer, El Paso attorney.
“As they say there are two sides to the story. And it will be the job of Joe Spencer and myself and our team to make sure that the story of Patrick Crusius is told,” said Stevens.
El Paso mayor Dee Margo released a statement following the hearing.
The family of Crusius released the following statement:
Our family is aware of today’s arraignment in Patrick’s case and his plea of not guilty. Again, we continue to pray for the victims and everyone involved, including all those now tasked with their roles in the process of our judicial system.