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Prosecutors to Make Recommendation on Possible Death Penalty in LAX Murder Case Set for July PDF Print E-mail
Written by FRED SHUSTER   
Thursday, 06 March 2014 04:28


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Paul Ciencia Is Accused Of Storming The Terminal And Killing Porter
Ranch Resident Gerardo Hernandez

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Federal prosecutors said they will issue their recommendation in July on whether the death penalty should be sought against the 23-year-old suspect accused in the deadly shooting spree at Los Angeles International Airport.

The case against Paul Anthony Ciancia is somewhat similar to the Boston Marathon bombing prosecution in that both murder cases involve one young defendant, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick R. Fitzgerald told U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez. The prosecutor said his office would work towards providing its recommendation to the U.S. Attorney General by July 21 as to a possible death sentence against Ciancia.

The ultimate decision on whether death is an appropriate penalty in the case is up to Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder has said he will seek the death penalty for 20-yearold Boston bombing suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev, whose trial will begin Nov. 3.

The final decision in Ciancia's case is likely to come at least three months after the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles makes its recommendation to Holder's office, Fitzgerald said. Gutierrez said previously that trial would be delayed until that decision had been made.

The judge set another status conference for Aug. 11. Ciancia was brought to court in green jail clothing, shackled at the wrists and ankles. At the request of defense counsel, U.S. marshals unshackled him for the brief hearing. Although his neck was bandaged at a previous hearing in January, Ciancia was not bandaged today and a small red mark was visible.

Prosecutors indicated the defendant would be brought from the San Bernardino jail medical facility, where he is currently housed, to the federal lockup in downtown Los Angeles in the next few weeks. Three charges in the 11-count indictment against Ciancia carry the potential for a death sentence: murder of a federal officer, use of a firearm that led to the murder, and act of violence in an international airport, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Ciancia, a Pennsville, N.J., native who had been living in Sun Valley for about two years, is accused of storming into Terminal 3 last Nov. 1 with an assault rifle, killing San Fernando Valley resident, Transportation Security Administration agent Gerardo Hernandez and wounding three others -- two other TSA workers and one traveler. Ciancia allegedly shot Hernandez at a lower-level LAX passenger check-in station and began walking upstairs, but returned when he realized Hernandez was still alive and shot him again.

In addition to first-degree murder, the indictment charges Ciancia with two counts of attempted murder for the shootings of TSA officers Tony Grigsby and James Speer. Brian Ludmer, a Calabasas teacher, was also wounded.

Ciancia is also charged with committing acts of violence at an international airport, one count of using a firearm to commit murder, and three counts of brandishing and discharging a firearm. During the shooting spree, Ciancia was allegedly carrying a handwritten, signed note saying he wanted to kill TSA agents and "instill fear in their traitorous minds,'' along with dozens of rounds of ammunition.

Witnesses to the shooting said the gunman asked them whether they worked for the TSA, and if they said no, he moved on. Ciancia was shot in the head and leg during a gun battle with airport police. He spent more than two weeks at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center before he was moved to the San Bernardino facility.

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