22-Year-Old Pleads Guilty To Deadly Synagogue Shooting, Avoiding Death Penalty

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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A man has pleaded guilty in the April 2019 Southern California Synagogue shooting.

John Earnest, a 22-year-old former nursing student, pleaded guilty to murder among other charges Tuesday in the San Diego Superior Court. By pleading guilty to the crime, Earnest avoided the death penalty, but will serve the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole, the San Diego County district attorney’s claimed, according to Fox News.

In April 2019, Earnest opened fire on the Chabad of Poway Synagogue, which killed 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye, and wounded three others, including an 8-year-old girl and a rabbi who lost a finger, according to Fox News. After the shooting, Earnest called authorities and alerted them to what he had done. He told 9-1-1 dispatchers that he had perpetrated the mass shooting because Jews were attempting to “destroy all white people,” Fox News reported.

Earnest also faces similar charges in federal court. His next appearance in federal court is scheduled for Sept. 30, and prosecutors have until Aug. 30 to decide whether to pursue the death penalty, according to Fox News. On June 4, Earnest sent a conditional plea agreement over to federal prosecutors for their consideration, the San Diego District Attorney’s office reportedly claimed.

Prior to agreeing to the deal, the San Diego district attorney’s office claimed they consulted the Kaye family and other victims and made them aware the plea arrangement in the federal prosecution could prevent the state’s case from moving forward, according to Fox News. (RELATED: Rabbi Embraces VP Pence During Visit To CA Synagogue Where Shooting Took Place)

“While we reserved the option of trying this as a death penalty case, life in prison without the possibility of parole for the defendant is an appropriate resolution to this violent hate crime and we hope it brings a measure of justice and closure to the victims, their families, friends and the wider community,” the San Diego district attorney’s office said, Fox News reported. “This plea ensures the defendant is held accountable for his crimes under California state law.”