BUFFALO, NY – The white man who killed 10 black people at a Buffalo supermarket made his first appearance in federal court on a hate crime charge Thursday, and the judge urged prosecutors to decide quickly whether to continue the sentence of death given the “substantial” cost of these cases.
In a brief proceeding, Presiding Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder said Payton Gendron was eligible to be represented by public defenders because of his financial situation. Responding to a series of questions from the judge with mostly “yes” or “no” answers, Gendron said he hadn’t been employed in a year, had $16 in a bank account, hadn’t car and two Disney shares.
Gendron has been held without bail since his arrest shortly after the May 14 attack at a Tops Friendly supermarket, which also left three people injured.
He appeared in the United States District Court in a criminal complaint charging him with 10 counts each of hate crimes resulting in death and use of a firearm in the commission of a murder. The complaint also includes three counts of hate crimes involving bodily harm and attempted murder, and use of a firearm in a violent crime.
Gendron wore an orange jumpsuit, chains, and a black mask covering a shaggy beard. He leaned forward slightly in his chair, his head bowed, as the judge read the charges.
No pleas were entered during the proceedings.
“It’s tough being here. It’s tough being in a courtroom with a terrorist,” said Zeneta Everhart, one of two dozen relatives of the victims who were in the courtroom. hearing. “To see the man who tried to kill my son sitting there, sharing the same space with him, is hard.”
Everhart’s 21-year-old son, Zaire Goodman, a Tops employee, was shot in the neck while helping a customer in the parking lot but survived.
She called being in court “part of my healing process.”
Gendron’s parents were not in the courtroom.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, who met with the families of the victims in Buffalo on Wednesday, did not rule out seeking the death penalty against Gendron.
Calling on prosecutors to make a quick decision on the death penalty, Schroeder noted that such cases typically require expert testimony from psychiatrists and medical examiners.
Federal prosecutor Joseph Tripi said the next step in the process involves an indictment. At this point, it will be the attorney general’s “sole decision” whether or not to seek the death penalty.
“I’m a Christian person, I don’t wish death on anyone,” a niece of the 62-year-old victim, Geraldine Talley, said after the hearing, “but here I have to work with, because I’d rather see him dead.”
The niece, Tamika Harper, has sworn to be at every court appearance “for my aunt and the other nine victims”.
“I’m angry, very, very angry,” said Harper, who wore pins on her top with photos of the victims. “He didn’t show the slightest remorse.”
The federal hate crimes case is based in part on documents in which Gendron details his plans for the attack, including the semi-automatic rifle he would use, the clothing and body armor he would wear, and the portable camera that would allow him to broadcast the massacre live. on the Internet.
The writings included “statements that his motivation for the attack was to prevent blacks from replacing whites and eliminating the white race, and to inspire others to carry out similar racially motivated attacks,” according to the complaint.
Gendron already faced a mandatory life sentence without parole if convicted of previously filed state charges, including hate-motivated domestic terrorism and murder. He pleaded not guilty.
His attorney in the state case declined to comment on the federal charges.
Gendron drove more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) from his home in Conklin to a mostly black part of Buffalo. There, authorities say, he fired about 60 shots at shoppers and workers.
The complaint details his way through the aisles of the store in search of victims as customers and employees ran for cover in a storage room, conference room, freezer and dairy cooler. .
Gendron surrendered to the police as he left the supermarket.