The accused Poway synagogue shooter John Ernest agrees to plead guilty
Santiago (CNS)-The man accused of killing a woman and injuring three others in the suspected hate crime shooting of Chabad in Poway Synagogue has reached a conditional plea agreement in his federal case, but the The proposal still needs to be approved by the U.S. Attorney General, the lawyer said on Friday.
No details of the plea agreement were disclosed during a brief hearing in San Diego Federal Court on Friday for 21-year-old John Timothy Earnest, who was facing the April 27, 2019 shooting State and federal prosecutions.
State prosecutors announced last year that they would seek a death sentence for Earnest, but the federal death sentence is still pending.
The prosecutor said that the preliminary plea agreement has been sent to the “appropriate decision makers” who will decide whether to accept or reject, which means Earnest may still be tried on more than 100 federal charges.
Earnest also held a state meeting on his state case on Tuesday, during which time more details about the status of the prosecution may be disclosed. His trial in the state’s case is currently scheduled for October 12.
The former Rancho Penasquitos resident and a nurse student at California State University San Marcos were accused of shooting on the last day of Passover, resulting in 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye being shot twice in the lobby of the synagogue. Kaye is a long-term member of Chabad in Poway, and she and her husband and daughter commemorate her recently deceased mother in the temple.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of the congregation lost a finger in the shooting. Two other people-Almog Peretz and his niece Noya Dahan-were also injured.
Surveillance video from the day of the crime appeared to show that the rifle jammed or malfunctioned after the shooter entered the synagogue and opened fire. He then fled the scene after being chased by the congregation, drove a short distance, called the police and took them to his location, where he was arrested.
Earnest was also charged with setting fire to the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in Escondido on March 24, 2019.
He allegedly acknowledged the shooting and the mosque fire in an open online letter in which he supported blatant anti-Semitic sentiment and the need to protect the “European race”.
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