A Denver-based attorney who has handled some of the city’s most high-profile cases and represented several people facing the death penalty, will represent the suspected gunman in the El Paso, Texas mass shooting, Denver7 has learned.
David Lane said Tuesday evening through a statement he was appointed to represent 21-year-old Patrick Crusius by federal court in El Paso.
“I have accepted this appointment because I believe the Constitution of the United States of America has got to be preserved protected and defended vigorously in order for all of us to maintain our freedom,” said Lane in the statement. “This includes the 6th Amendment’s right to counsel which is among the most cherished rights we have.”
Lane, who began his career as a public defender in New York in 1980, has been practicing law in Colorado for more than 30 years. Federal courts have certified him as “learned counsel” for federal death penalty cases, according to his law firm’s website.
One of those cases involved representing a man who was facing the death penalty in connection with the killing of a Colorado corrections officer in 2012. Previously, Lane also represented a man who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the beating death of a corrections officer in 2003. The man was sentenced to death but his sentenced was overturned in 2007.
Among the city’s most high-profile cases, Lane joined as co-counsel in a class-action lawsuit challenging the city’s homeless sweeps.
In a 2009 profile by The Denver Post, Lane said he saw redeeming value in everyone, a belief that was formed while he practiced law in New York.
“When you’re working as a public defender, and you see the things that your clients do, you can’t help but understand — not necessarily excuse what they do — but understand how they got to where they got, and that’s a life-changing insight,” Lane said. “When you see the problems of poverty and race and just the despair in the ghettos of Brooklyn for seven years, you come away with different insights into the world than people who are not exposed to those things.”
Crusis, of Allen, Texas, is being held without bond on capital murder charges in the shooting inside a Walmart that left 22 people dead and more than a dozen wounded.
Police say Crusius surrendered and identified himself as the shooter following the massacre. He told police that he was targeting Mexicans, according to an arrest affidavit.
Federal authorities are treating the mass shooting as a case of domestic terrorism.
CNN contributed to this report.