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Death penalty decision on LAX gunman from NJ due in fall

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Federal prosecutors expect to know by mid-November whether they will seek to execute the Pennsville man charged in a deadly shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport.

Paul Ciancia
Paul Ciancia (AP Photo/FBI, File)

The case of Paul Ciancia has been forwarded to the attorney general in Washington to determine if they will seek the death penalty in the murder of a Transportation Security Administration officer and the wounding of three other people, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joanna Curtis said Monday.

Prosecutors did not reveal what recommendation was made and declined to discuss the case outside of court.

Ciancia, 23, who has pleaded not guilty to murder of a federal officer and 10 other charges in the Nov. 1 rampage that shutdown the airport for much of the day and crippled air travel nationwide.

Ciancia, shackled and wearing a white jail suit and green windbreaker when he entered court did not speak during a brief hearing in U.S. District Court.

Before a final decision is made by the U.S. Department of Justice, public defenders will go to Washington to present why Ciancia shouldn’t face 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.

“I’m not waiting,” he said.

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.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed)

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