District Attorney Mark Skurka is considering whether or not to seek the death penalty against the suspects in last week's fatal convenience store shooting.
That shooting happened last Monday at the Tim's Market on Ayers and Brownlee. The three suspects -- Del Victoria Cavazos, Arturo Navarro and Daniel Garcia, all 26 years old -- have been charged with capital murder for killing 59-year old Moustafa Binghamiam, known to most as Ben Mustafa.
The process of deciding whether to seek the death penalty is fairly complex. Not all capital crimes carry a death sentence, which is why death penalty cases have to be carefully weighed before the decision to ask for it can be posed before a jury.
District Attorney Mark Skurka said there is much to consider.
"First of all, it would be the heinousness of the crime. The second thing we'd look for is the person's criminal history," Skurka said. "For example, is this his first crime or his 15th crime? That's an important consideration. Has he been through the system before? Has he been afforded the chance at rehabilitation?"
Also to be considered is whether the defendant is a continuing threat to society, or whether there is a history of mental issues, or even if the person is incompetent.
All of these issues are considered by the DA when he meets with his top prosecutors and investigators, before making the ultimate decision whether to seek the death penalty.
When it comes to the city's most recent capital murder, the death of Benjamin Mustafa, the DA said it could be some time before he decides whether to seek the death penalty.
"First of all, there's three people that we have to seek their background," Skurka said. "We can get a grand jury subpoena where we get their school records, get medical records, if they've ever been patients at MHMR, any other kind of criminal history they have. We'll have to research that and look at the actual crimes to see if they have an assault or violent history. So I don't think it's going to happen right away."
Skurka said he continues to get calls from the community asking the same question, whether he plans to seek the death penalty for one or all three of the suspects in the Tim's Market shooting. He said he understands the concern of the public because Mustafa was well-liked by many, but he said once all of the investigation is complete, he will make a decision.