Estaban Santiago (Fort Lauderdale airport shooter) will avoid the death penalty

Estaban Santiago, the Fort Lauderdale airport shooter, will accept a plea deal and thus avoid the death penalty. He killed 5 people and injured 6 others in his attack.

The attack occurred on January 6, 2017 and Santiago was subsequently indicted on 22 Federal charges, several of which carried the death penalty.

Much of the delay has been do to getting the necessary mental health checks to ensure that Santiago is competent to accept the plea deal. Santiago will plead guilty to 11 of the 22 charges, several of which carry life in prison. (There is no parole in the federal system.) He is assured to spend the rest of his life in prison. The family members of the victims and Jeff Sessions agreed not to pursue the death penalty.

United States District Judge Beth Bloom of the Southern District of Florida is presiding over this case.

Strange, he offered no plea bargains to his victims.

I suspect the United States Attorney’s Office had serious doubts as to whether they could get a jury to agree to the death penalty, given the random and irrational nature of his crime. I think he could have beaten the death penalty at trial and I think the choice to agree to life in prison is economical, saving the government the cost of pursuing the death penalty and the further costs of defending the death penalty on appeal, when there was really little practical chance that he would ever be executed, given known mental history.

I suppose the lesser of two wastes was avoided. Shame he has to keep breathing though.

He was part of the flophouse–>homeless–>shelter–>homeless–>flophouse underbelly of society. No one has voluntarily lived like that since the 1960’s so it’s a pretty safe bet he’s mentally ill and/or addicted.

I don’t know how that would impact his criminal defense, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. :slight_smile:

Hopefully they’ll take the sheriff away too.

I’m opposed to the death penalty so I think this is a good thing. IMO, rotting away in prison your whole life is a fate worse than death, imo.

He’s part of that underbelly of society due to mental health problems after having served in the latest Iraq conflict. From my experience, V A would have been of little assistance. Anecdote my first day working there, I was shared the story of a female veteran of that conflict, who, by the time all of her paperworke was processed, she, too, was homeless.

According to wiki he is schizophrenic. thought the US government was controlling his mind and the CIA was trying to force him to join ISIL aka ISIS. Prior to the attack he walked in to an FBI field office and reported that voices in his head were telling him to commit acts of violence.

I am never 100% certain of a wiki entry but I’ll go with that.

I don’t know much about mental illness, but I’ve never heard of stress disorder causing the deep seated paranoid, schizophrenic, voices in the head ill.

He served in Iraq in the National Guard, eventually receiving a general discharge for “unsatisfactory performance.” He was a private first class and received ten awards during his time in the military.

If I had to guess. I would say that his time in Iraq did not cause his schizophrenia, because schizophrenia is not caused by stress. However the military failed to diagnose him and should have given him a medical discharge together with whatever (mental) health benefits (medicaid?) and eligibility for disability aid that entitles one to.

“…together with whatever (mental) health benefits (medicaid?)…”

Most likely. Clozaril is one drug used to treat schizophrenia, and requires regular monitoring to ensure it isn’t destroying too many white blood cells, among other complications. These patients tend to get Medicaid as their insurer.

My impression is that had the Guard diagnosed his condition and given him a medical discharge (instead of a general discharge citing “unsatisfactory performance,”) more help would have been available to him.

Is the Guard even equipped to make suchva diagnosis? Possibly not.

There’s (also) no knowing if “more help” would have resulted in him living a better life, and no knowing if “more help” would have prevented this tragedy.

I guess we can only speculate.