Jan 12, 2024 - Politics & Policy

DOJ to seek death penalty for Buffalo mass shooter

a makeshift memorial across the street from Tops Friendly Market

A makeshift memorial across the street from Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, May 2022. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Justice Department plans to seek the death penalty for the white gunman convicted of killing 10 Black people in a "racially motivated" mass shooting in Buffalo, New York in 2022.

Why it matters: This marks the first time that the Biden administration has sought the death penalty in a new case, per AP.

The big picture: Peyton Gendron, 20, was sentenced to life in prison without parole last year after pleading guilty to a slew of state charges, including domestic terrorism motivated by hate.

State of play: While New York does not allow for capital punishment, it is still permitted in sentencing for federal cases.

  • Gendron had initially said he would plead guilty in the federal case if prosecutors agreed to not pursue the death penalty, per AP.
  • However, federal prosecutors said in a court filing on Friday that the circumstances of the mass shooting were "such that, in the event of a conviction, a sentence of death is justified."
  • "The United States will seek the sentence of death for these offenses," they added.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul voiced her support for the decision at a press conference Friday.

  • "This complies with the DOJ requirements for what constitutes a death penalty offense," she said, adding the Buffalo community is "still reeling from the atrocity" of the mass shooting.

Go deeper: Remembering the victims of the Buffalo mass shooting

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