Court

After six years of delays, judge sets civil trial date for parents of Santa Fe school shooting

Ewing set the trial after Ron Rodgers, attorney of the parents, said he has intentions of withdrawing as their legal counsel. Ewing also urged Rodgers to file the motion to withdraw as soon as possible. 

Santa Fe Shooting Memorial
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Jai Gillard, who was in the Santa Fe High School class where a mass shooting started on May 18, 2018, looks at a cross for victim Sabika Sheikh, an exchange student from Pakistan, before signing it at a memorial for the victims of the shooting.

Nearly six years after the Santa Fe High School shooting massacre that left 10 people dead and 13 more injured, a Galveston judge on Thursday set a civil trial date against the parents of the accused shooter.

Families of the victims argue in court documents that the parents of Dimitrios Pagourtzis failed to secure their personal guns that Pagourtzis used in the shooting on May 18, 2018. They said Pagourtzis’ parents also failed to get him the mental health counseling he needed.

“Had the murderer not had available to him the weapons for his carnage, his black rage might well have continued to simmer within,” according to the lawsuit targeting his parents, Antonios Pagourtzis and Rose Marie Kosematatos.

On Thursday, Judge Jack Ewing set the trial against Antonios Pagourtzis and Kosemetatos to begin on May 28 this year. A pre-trial conference will take place on May 17, he said.

Ewing set the trial after Ron Rodgers, attorney of the parents, said he has intentions of withdrawing as their legal counsel. Ewing also urged Rodgers to file the motion to withdraw as soon as possible.

Families say the incoming trial pushes them one step closer to justice after six years of delays because Dimitrios Pagourtzis has repeatedly been deemed mentally incompetent to face a trial of his own.

“It’s something that we’ve all been waiting for,” Rosie Yanas Stone told press outside of the courtroom Thursday.

A Galveston County judge last month determined Pagourtzis was again mentally incompetent to stand trial and will be recommitted for up to another 12 months to continue receiving treatment. Judge Lonnie Cox in January determined he was "suffering severe and abnormal mental, emotional, or physical distress," "not able to make a rational and informed decision" and is "likely to cause serious harm to others," according to court documents.

“In a criminal case, they have the ability to gather information that we don’t have access to, and we’ve tried to get that information, and because there’s an ongoing investigation, we don’t have access to that,” Clint McGuire, an attorney for the families of the victims said on Thursday.

But Yanas Stone said she’s hopeful that the May 28 trial will be a step closer to giving the victims their rights back.

“We’ve waited long enough for this, so going forward is the key here,” she said.

Just last year, the victims’ families reached a settlement with an online ammunition company that sold bullets used in the shooting to Pagourtzis. Lucky Gunner was accused of selling the ammunition to him without properly verifying his age.

The new trial targeting parents of the shooter was set after a historic verdict earlier this week set a precedent for holding parents responsible for crimes their children committed, experts say.

Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of a Michigan teen who killed four students and wounded seven during a mass shooting at Oxford High School in 2021 was convicted Tuesday in connection with her son’s crimes. She’ll be sentenced on April 9, according to NPR.

“Seeing that four families got accountability in Oxford, that’s an amazing thing,” Yanas Stone said. That’s never been done before.”