A decision on whether federal prosecutors will pursue the death penalty against the man accused of opening fire last year in Los Angeles International Airport, killing a Transportation Security Administration officer, is expected by mid-November.
The case of Paul Anthony Ciancia, who pleaded not guilty to murder of a federal officer and 10 other charges in the Nov. 1 rampage, was forwarded to the office of the attorney general, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joanna Curtis told the Associated Press Monday. Ciancia is accused of shooting and killing TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez, 39, before wounding two other TSA officers and a teacher in an LAX terminal before he was shot and wounded by police.
Prosecutors did not reveal what recommendation was made and declined to discuss the case outside of court, the AP reported.
Ciancia, 23, pleaded not guilty to murder of a federal officer and 10 other charges in the shooting rampage that shutdown the airport for much of the day and slowed air travel nationwide. He was shackled and wearing a white jail suit and green windbreaker when he entered court and did not speak during a brief hearing in U.S. District Court, the AP reported.
Before a final decision is made by the U.S. Department of Justice, public defenders will go to Washington to present the case against the death penalty. Chief Deputy Federal Defender Hilary Potashner said she may not be prepared to do that on the government's timeline because the defense is still receiving evidence.
So far, 10,000 pieces of evidence and 150 DVDs of material have been disclosed to the defense, Curtis said. Investigators are still looking into Ciancia's background and they have visited his hometown of Pennsville, New Jersey, and interviewed high school classmates.
Judge Philip Gutierrez said he wants to hold the trial next year. Potashner, however, warned that the seriousness of the charges and the volume of evidence in the complex case could delay the trial.
The next hearing was scheduled for Dec. 8.