Crime & Justice

Federal prosecutors again delay death penalty decision in LAX shooting

The FBI released this mugshot of Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23 — a resident of Los Angeles formerly from New Jersey — whom they identified as the suspect in the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport Friday morning, Nov. 1, 2013, that killed a Transportation Security Administration officer and injured several others.
The FBI released this mugshot of Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23 — a resident of Los Angeles formerly from New Jersey — whom they identified as the suspect in the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport Friday morning, Nov. 1, 2013, that killed a Transportation Security Administration officer and injured several others.
FBI

Federal prosecutors said on Monday they have not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty for a gunman accused of a deadly shooting spree last year inside a terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport. 

Paul Ciancia, 24, has been indicted on 11 federal counts including murder, and attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty to all counts last year in December.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in federal court Monday that he expects a decision soon from the Department of Justice on whether to seek the death penalty against Ciancia.

Transportation Security Administration officer Gerardo Hernandez was killed during the shooting. Two more TSA workers were shot and injured, as well as an airline passenger.

Fitzgerald told U.S District Judge Philip Gutierrez that the prosecution team sent recommendation materials regarding the death penalty to the U.S. Attorney General and deputy Attorney General in early November.

“At this time, we don’t have a decision although we hope to have that in the near future,” Fitzgerald said in court on Monday.

This is the second hearing that’s been postponed regarding the death penalty decision. No trial date has been set. On Monday the judge set another hearing for Jan. 5.

When asked outside the courtroom what was behind the delay, Fitzgerald said he didn’t think the timing was unusual.  

He said federal prosecutors took nine months to decide on the death penalty for the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing that happened in April 2013.

“If you consider what happened in the Boston bombing case … the timing it’s not unusual,” Fitzgerald said.

It has been more than a year since the LAX shooting, which occurred in November of 2013.

Suspect Paul Ciancia attended the hearing Monday. He wore a green federal prison windbreaker over a white prison jumpsuit with chains around his waist.

Ciancia spent several weeks at the West Valley Detention Center in San Bernardino County after the shooting because of his injuries. Ciancia had been shot at least once in the face during the incident.

In court on Monday, Ciancia was able to stand up with bent knees at the start of the court hearing. He sat quietly next to his federal public defenders and scanned the courtroom gallery twice during the short hearing.