A grand jury has indicted the white man suspected of killing ten black people in a racist attack on a Buffalo supermarket with state terrorism and a hate crime, which carries a mandatory life sentence.
Payton Gendron will be arraigned Thursday on the new 25-count indictment, which is in addition to an earlier hastily drafted murder charge within hours of the May 14 incident.
The 18-year-old is now charged with attempted murder of three people who were shot but survived the attack, as well as committing a crime with a weapon.
He entered a plea of not guilty. Prosecutors told a judge on May 20 that a grand jury had voted to prosecute Gendron, but they would not reveal the charges since the case was still pending.
Brian Parker, Gendron’s attorney, said he had not seen the indictment and could not comment, noting that a court had barred prosecutors and defense attorneys from publicly discussing the question.
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The horrific nature of the crime and the number of victims were likely to already warrant a life sentence if Gendron is found guilty. New York does not have the death penalty. But adding a state terrorism charge could have additional emotional resonance and help authorities send a message about violent extremism.
The Acts of Domestic Terrorism Motivated by First-Degree Hate accuses Gendron of killing “because of the presumed race and/or color” of his victims, according to the domestic terrorism allegation.
“This man was motivated by hatred against people he has never met for no reason other than the color of their skin,” said Buffalo attorney John Elmore, who represents the families of victims Katherine “Kat.” Massey, 72, and Andre Mackniel, 53. Elmore said he hoped for a conviction on all counts. Following a mass killing targeting Mexicans at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, former Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the Domestic Terrorism Hate Crimes Act in August 2019. After an attack on a home of the rabbi in Munsey, New York, the “Josef Neumann Hate Crimes and Domestic Terrorism Act” was signed into law on April 3, 2020 and went into effect on November 1, 2020.
The law built on an earlier domestic terrorism law enacted in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, which was primarily aimed at combating international extremism.
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Post expires at 4:49am on Sunday June 12th, 2022