22-Year-Old Sentenced To Life In Prison For Fatal 2019 Synagogue Attack

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Jack Kerley Contributor
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A man was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 2019 Southern California Synagogue shooting.

Twenty-two-year-old John T. Earnest received a sentence of 137 years without parole Thursday for the murder of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, three counts of attempted murder for the shooting of an 8-year-old girl, her uncle and Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein with an arson charge for a fire at a local mosque earlier that day, The Associated Press reported.

His guilty plea in July lead to the prosecution dropping any further attempts to seek the death penalty, instead opting for life in prison, the AP reported. (RELATED: 22-Year-Old Pleads Guilty To Deadly Shooting Synagogue Shooting, Avoiding Death Penalty)

Thirteen victims and families got a chance to tell their stories and address the killer directly during the trial. John O’Connell, the gunman’s attorney, said that his client had something to say, but was rejected by Superior Court Judge Peter Deddeh, according to the AP.

“I’m not going to let him use this as a platform to add to his celebrity,” said Deddeh, as he didn’t want to platform white supremacist views after Earnest’s conduct in police custody, according to the outlet.

After Earnest had left the synagogue, he dialed 911 and stated that Jewish people were trying to “destroy all white people,” according to the authorities, NPR reported.

The decision to stop Earnest from speaking was challenged by the prosecutor and the defense attorney, but Deddeh didn’t change his mind, reported the AP. 

Earnest was inspired by the 2019 New Zealand Mosque shooting  and the 2018 Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, and frequented 8chan which stoked his extremism, according to the AP.

Earnest’s parents did not attend the court hearing, however, his family has apologized multiple times since the shooting saying, “to our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries,” according to the AP.

San Diego Attorney General Summer Stephan echoed Deddeh’s decision to disallow Earnest from speaking, stating the planned statement was “more spewing of hatred and propaganda.”

Stephan said it “makes me sleep better at night” because she knows Earnest will see both state and federal prosecution for his crimes.

Earnest’s federal court date is set for Dec. 28, according to the outlet.