National Roundup

Walmart shooting suspect to plead guilty to federal charges

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — The man accused of killing nearly two dozen people in a racist attack at an El Paso Walmart plans to plead guilty to federal charges in the case, according to court records filed days after the federal government said it wouldn’t seek the death penalty in the case.

Patrick Crusius is still charged in state court with capital murder and could still face the death penalty in Texas if convicted in the 2019 mass shooting that killed 23 people.

In a court filing Saturday, defense attorneys asked for a hearing to be set so Crusius could plead guilty to federal charges. He was charged with federal hate crimes and firearms violations.

U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama, in an order Monday, set the hearing for Feb. 8 in El Paso.

Crusius surrendered to police after the attack, saying, “I’m the shooter, “ and that he was targeting Mexicans, according to an arrest warrant. Prosecutors have said he published a screed online shortly before the shooting that said it was “in response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

The Aug. 3, 2019, shooting happened on a busy weekend day at a Walmart that is typically popular with shoppers from Mexico and the U.S. In addition to those who died, more than two dozen were injured. Many were citizens of Mexico.

El Paso is a largely Hispanic city that forms an international metro area with Ciudad Juarez with more than 2 million people. On the U.S. side, suburbs stretch into New Mexico.

Although the federal and state cases have progressed along parallel tracks, it’s unclear when Crusius might face trial on state charges. A status hearing in the state case was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, according to court records.

The district attorney who had been leading the state case, Yvonne Rosales, resigned in November over accusations of incompetence involving hundreds of cases in El Paso and slowing down the case against Crusius. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last month appointed a new district attorney to “restore confidence” in the local criminal justice system.


Court reverses class action decision in Burger King lawsuit

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A judge improperly certified a lawsuit alleging that scores of Burger King managers across Wisconsin deserve overtime pay as a class action, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.

A group of around a half-dozen managers and assistant managers at Burger Kings run by Cave Enterprises Operations LLC filed a lawsuit in November 2019, alleging that they have to work more than 40 hours a week and spend most of their time doing the same work as nonexecutive employees at the restaurants. Wisconsin administrative code provides that employers don’t have to pay workers overtime if those workers serve as executives or managers.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Pedro Colon, a former Democratic legislator, granted the plaintiffs’ motion in August 2021 to certify the lawsuit as a class action, including all salaried managers and assistant managers at Cave Burger Kings across the state. The class includes 207 general managers and 107 assistant general managers, according to court documents.

The company argued on appeal that Colon erroneously exercised his discretion and that questions about how much time each manager in the class actually spends on nonmanagerial tasks haven’t been answered. Colon agreed that those questions should be answered for each manager but didn’t explain how to do that without requiring individual testimony.

The 1st District Court of Appeals agreed with the company, issuing a unanimous ruling that Colon didn’t explain the rationale for his decision and determined multiple questions of fact must be addressed before certifying the lawsuit as a class action. The appellate court sent the case back to Colon to reanalyze the class action request.

“The court’s demonstration of rational decision-making will in turn support a determination that it properly exercised its discretion in reaching a decision on the class certification that a reasonable court could reach, “ Judge Maxine Aldridge White wrote.

The attorneys representing the managers, Timothy Maynard, Summer Murshid and Larry Johnson, didn’t immediately respond to an email Tuesday seeking comment on the ruling.


U.S. board says Boeing Max likely hit a bird before 2019 crash

U.S. accident investigators disagree with Ethiopian authorities over the cause of a sensor malfunction that preceded the March 2019 crash of a Boeing 737 Max shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that it determined that the bad sensor reading was caused by impact with an object, most likely a bird.

Ethiopia’s aviation authority said false readings by the sensor, which measures the direction of the plane’s nose, were caused by electrical issues that had existed since the plane was manufactured.

The NTSB said in a document dated Jan. 13 and released Tuesday that Ethiopia’s final report on the crash provides no details to support the finding of an electrical problem. The U.S. board relied partly on a fault analysis by Collins Aerospace, which made the sensor.

Both sides agree that the sensor readings caused an automated flight-control system new on the Max to pitch the nose of the plane downward. Pilots were unable to regain control. The crash killed all 157 people on board and occurred less than five months after a Max crash in Indonesia killed 189 people.

The NTSB released its new comments three weeks after its initial criticism of Ethiopia’s findings around the cause of the crash, which led to a worldwide grounding of all Max jets for nearly two years.

Boeing is to be arraigned Thursday in a federal court in Texas on a charge of defrauding the United States. More than a dozen relatives of crash victims have asked the court for time to speak after Boeing enters a plea to the fraud charge.

The families are pushing the Justice Department to re-open a 2021 settlement in which Boeing agreed to pay $2.5 billion in exchange for not facing criminal prosecution over the way it obtained regulatory approval for the plane. Both Boeing and the Justice Department oppose reopening the settlement.

The judge ordered Boeing to be represented by an “appropriate person.” Boeing has not publicly identified that person.