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The fate of the Buffalo supermarket shooter will be decided next year

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The Justice Department won’t decide until 2023 whether to seek the death penalty for Buffalo supermarket shooter Payton Gendron, but Gendron’s attorney reiterated on Friday that he was prepared to plead guilty to the federal charges in exchange for a life sentence.

Gendron, who fatally shot 10 black people at a Tops supermarket in May, pleaded guilty last month to state charges including murder and hate-motivated domestic terrorism. He carried out the attack “because of the perceived race and/or color” of the victims, according to the Erie County prosecutor’s indictment.

Buffalo police at the scene of a Tops Friendly Market, May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, New York.

John Normile/Getty Images

Gendron is federally charged with hate crime causing death, hate crime causing bodily harm, use of a firearm in the commission of murder, and use of a firearm in connection with a crime. of violence.

“We still hope to resolve this case before a trial,” defense attorney Sonya Zoghlin said during a hearing on Friday. “He is prepared to plead guilty in federal court in exchange for a life sentence.”

Meanwhile, Zoghlin asked the judge for additional time to review the “voluminous” discovery material handed over by the government.

But Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder replied, “I don’t see the need to spend much time on discovery documents that relate only to the substantive factual issues to which the defendant pleaded guilty. The question now for the defense is to focus on mitigating why there shouldn’t be a federal death sentence.

Schroeder agreed to give the defense until March 10, 2023 to review the discovery and, concurrently, negotiate with federal prosecutors about a possible plea deal.

PHOTO: Buffalo shooting suspect Payton Gendron appears in court charged with killing 10 people in a live shooting at a supermarket in a black neighborhood of Buffalo, NY, May 19, 2022.

Buffalo shooting suspect Payton Gendron appears in court charged with killing 10 people in a live shooting at a supermarket in a black neighborhood of Buffalo, NY on May 19, 2022.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters, FILE

“The defendant pleaded guilty to similar but unrelated charges in proceedings in New York State,” Schroeder said. “So it seems to me that the question of guilt or innocence on the federal charges is basically moot because of the defendant’s own confession in state court.”

Schroeder also questioned whether a federal trial was even necessary if the Justice Department ultimately decided not to seek the death penalty.

“Obviously you can’t have two consecutive life sentences because Mr. Gendron only has one life to live,” Schroeder said.

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ABC News

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