California synagogue shooting suspect pleads guilty


SAN DIEGO (AP) – A 22-year-old former nursing student pleaded guilty on Tuesday to murder and other charges in connection with a deadly shooting at a Southern California synagogue on the last day of Passover.

John T. Earnest avoided the death penalty by arguing in San Diego Superior Court. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said he had agreed to serve the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole in a state prison. Sentencing is scheduled for September 30.

Earnest opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle on the last day of Passover services in April 2019 at Chabad of Poway. The attack killed Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, and injured three others, including an 8-year-old girl and the rabbi, who lost a finger.

Earnest then called 911 to say he shot down a synagogue because Jews were trying to “destroy all white people,” authorities said.

Earnest faces similar charges in federal court, where federal prosecutors faced an August 30 deadline on whether to prosecute the death penalty. His next federal court appearance is September 30. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earnest submitted a conditional plea agreement for federal prosecutors’ consideration on June 4, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said.

The district attorney said he consulted with the Kaye family and other victims before agreeing to the deal, aware that a possible plea arrangement under the federal prosecutor’s office would prevent the state’s case from moving forward.

“While we reserve the right to judge this as a death penalty case, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the accused is an appropriate solution to this violent hate crime and we hope it will bring action. of justice and closure to the victims, their families, friends and the wider community, “the office said.” This plea ensures that the accused is held accountable for his crimes under the law of the State of California.

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