BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Department of Justice is closer to making a decision on whether to pursue the death penalty for the racist who killed 10 Black shoppers and injured three employees inside the East Side Tops on May 14, 2022.
The DOJ and attorneys for gunman Payton Gendron met this week to discuss pursing the penalty, but as far as News 4 has confirmed, no final decisions have been made.
Zeneta Everhart’s son, Zaire Goodman, is still recovering from the injuries he sustained from the May 14 attack. Everhart says a federal trial of this magnitude would be historic for both Buffalo and the entire country. While she doesn’t support the death penalty overall, she says if the DOJ pursues it in this case, she will support it.
“I know that a trial will be a teachable moment for America,” Everhart said. “They made it very clear that our input would weigh the decision.”
No details have been released about the meeting held between the DOJ and Gendron’s attorneys on Monday in Washington, D.C.
“Those individuals who are representing Gendron get to go down there and get to make their case. They get to say why the death penalty should not be imposed. In addition, the families that I speak for get to have a say as well,” Terry Connors, attorney for some of the victim’s families, said.
The gunman’s defense team said he will plead guilty if the death penalty is off the table, but if the ultimate punishment is pursued, there will be a trial. Everhart says she does not support the death penalty in principle, but she is hopeful this goes to trial. If a trial takes place, all evidence would be presented, which could include the live stream of the attack. Everhart thinks will make the nation uncomfortable and could drive change.
“I don’t want to watch it, but I know at a trial I will have to and I am willing to suck that up because the country should see what that terrorist did to my community, and to my people, and to my child,” Everhart explained. “This is going to go down in history books. People are going to have to read about what happened on 5/14/22 and they’re going to have to know everything that happened.”
Connors says the families are prepared to go to trial and testify if necessary. While it has been a lengthy battle thus far, he is confident they will remain strong to see this through.
“This is a strong group of individuals who want to see change and want to see something accomplished. If [something] positive in any way can come out of it, they want to have that information out there in the public,” Connors said.
The timeline for this trial remains unclear, and Connors says he expects a decision within the next month. He is also hoping the feds release more of the evidence to the families so they can make an informed recommendation on the punishment to the DOJ.
In the meantime, Connors says progress is being made in the several civil cases filed on behalf of victim’s families and attorneys are in the process of submitting and reviewing discovery evidence.