EAST BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – The Department of Justice is nearing a decision on whether to impose the death penalty for the racist who killed ten Black shoppers and injured three employees in the East Side Tops on May 14, 2022. The DOJ and Payton Gendron’s attorneys met this week to discuss it, but as far as News 4 has confirmed, no final decisions have been made yet.
Zeneta Everhart’s son Zaire Goodman is still recovering from injuries sustained in the May 14 attack. Everhart says a federal trial of this magnitude would be historic for both Buffalo and the entire country. Although she doesn’t support the death penalty overall, she says she will support it if the DOJ pursues it.
“I know a trial will be a teaching moment for America,” Everhart said. “They made it very clear that our input would weigh in on the decision.”
No details were released about Monday’s meeting between the DOJ and Gendron’s lawyers in Washington, DC
“Those who represent Gendron can go there and present their arguments. You can say why the death penalty should not be imposed. “In addition, the families I speak for also have a say,” said Terry Connors, an attorney for some of the victim’s families.
The gunman’s defense team said he would plead guilty if the death penalty was off the table, but if the final punishment was sought there would be a trial. Everhart says she doesn’t support the death penalty in principle, but she hopes it goes to trial. If there is a trial, all evidence would be presented, which could include the livestream of the attack. Everhart believes this will make the nation uncomfortable and could spur change.
“I don’t want to see it, but I know I have to at a trial and I’m ready to suck it up because the country should see what this terrorist did to my community, my people and my child,” explained Everhart. “This will go down in the history books. People need to read what happened on 5/14/22 and they need to know everything that happened.”
Connors says the families are prepared to go to court and testify if necessary. Although it has been a long battle so far, he is confident they will stay strong to get through this.
“This is a strong group of individuals who want to see change and achieve something. If [something] “While something positive may come out of this in some way, they want to make this information available to the public,” Connors said.
The timeline for that process remains unclear and Connors says he expects a decision within the next month. He also hopes federal authorities will provide more evidence to the families so they can make an informed punishment recommendation to the Justice Department.
Meanwhile, Connors says progress is being made on several civil lawsuits filed on behalf of victims’ families and that attorneys are in the process of filing and reviewing evidence for disclosure.