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DA candidate vows to seek death penalty for Methodist shooter, incumbent says he might

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot has not sought the death penalty while in office. He’s considering it for the Methodist hospital shooter while his opponent commits.

Attorney Faith Johnson and incumbent John Creuzot
Republican candidate for Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson and incumbent John Creuzot, a Democrat, spoke during a candidate forum at the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce in Dallas on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022.(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

By Krista M. Torralva

The Republican candidate for Dallas County District Attorney, Faith Johnson, vowed to pursue the death penalty, if elected, for the man accused of killing two Methodist Dallas Medical Center employees Saturday.

“Based on … the reports that’s coming out now with that Methodist hospital shooting, I will seek the death penalty on that case,” Johnson said in a candidate forum Friday hosted by the League of Women Voters of Dallas and the North Texas Commission.

Johnson tried to differentiate herself from incumbent John Creuzot, a Democrat, by pointing to Creuzot’s record on the death penalty. She has previously questioned his stance on capital punishment while on her campaign trail.

Faith Johnson
Republican candidate Faith Johnson during a candidate forum with Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot at the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce in Dallas on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022.(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

Creuzot has not sought the death penalty in any case during his four years in office. He has said he is not anti-death penalty, but carefully considers how long it takes from trial to execution, the cost spent on appeals and whether a jury would choose capital punishment. He pointed to a Florida jury’s recent verdict of life in prison for the gunman who killed 17 students and teachers in a Parkland school.

“There is no guarantee that if you seek a death penalty, you will get it,” Creuzot said. “I’m not shy about it. I’m just going to follow the law and be certain that we have the best chance to achieve that goal.”

After the forum, Creuzot told The Dallas Morning News he is considering pursuing the death penalty for Nestor Oswaldo Hernandez, who faces a capital murder charge in the hospital slayings.

Attorney John Creuzot
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot speaks during a debate with Republican candidate Faith Johnson at the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce in Dallas on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022.(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

Jacqueline Ama Pokuaa, a 45-year-old case worker, and Katie Annette Flowers, a 63-year-old nurse, were killed. Dallas police said Hernandez, who was out of prison on parole for a violent robbery, was in the hospital for the birth of his son.

Hernandez began shooting after accusing his girlfriend, who had recently given birth, of cheating, according to an arrest-warrant affidavit. He also struck the woman with the gun, police said. A Methodist police officer shot Hernandez in the leg. Hernandez was booked in the county jail Wednesday after being hospitalized for the wound.

The case underscored the need for better communication between the DA’s office and the prison system, Johnson and Creuzot agreed. Police had no warning Hernandez would be at the hospital, the Methodist Health System’s police chief said. Creuzot and police have criticized the state parole board’s decision to release Hernandez early.

Johnson touted herself as the candidate who gets along better with law enforcement agencies and said she would collaborate. Creuzot, who said he works well with police chiefs in Dallas County, said the communication gap can be attributed to an antiquated computer system that limits information sharing across agencies. He said funding is needed from state legislators to outfit the electronic system.

Creuzot and Johnson were asked for their stances on other lightning-rod topics, including whether they would prosecute medical providers for performing abortions or others who help facilitate them.

The candidates said it’s a non-issue currently because doctors in Dallas County are not performing abortions. In August, Dallas City Council passed limits on city resources used to investigate abortions, Creuzot also pointed out.

Creuzot has said he will respect decisions made between women and their health care providers. Johnson said she will be more focused on prosecuting violent crime offenders.

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