Death Penalty Exemption Sought Due to Juvenile Age in Tops Grocery Store Shooting Case

Buffalo, New York – Lawyers representing the shooter responsible for the deadly attack at a Tops grocery store in 2022 have filed a request in federal court seeking to exempt their client from the death penalty. The attorneys argue that the shooter was 18 years old at the time of the racially motivated mass shooting that claimed the lives of 10 individuals.

In a recent court filing, the defense team for Payton Gendron contends that advancements in the understanding of late-adolescent brain development support their argument against seeking the death penalty. They point to research indicating similarities in decision-making and behavioral abilities between individuals in their late teens and early 20s and those under 18 years old.

Furthermore, the defense attorneys have challenged the constitutionality of the federal death penalty, citing concerns about cruel and unusual punishment. They argue that the prosecution’s decision to seek the death penalty for Gendron while sparing other defendants in similar cases raises questions of arbitrariness.

Prosecutors have cited nine aggravating factors in their intent to seek the death penalty against Gendron, including the racially motivated nature of the killings. Gendron’s federal trial is scheduled to begin on September 8, 2025.

The deadly attack occurred on May 14, 2022, when Gendron targeted Black individuals at the Tops Markets on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo in a livestreamed racist incident on the internet. He fatally shot 10 Black individuals and injured several others, leading to a 27-count federal indictment against him.

While Gendron has already received a life sentence without parole for state charges related to the murders, the U.S. Justice Department announced its determination to pursue the death penalty in his federal case. The defense team continues to challenge various aspects of the legal proceedings, including the constitutionality of hate crime legislation.