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San Diego synagogue shooter pleads guilty to avoid death penalty

By
Zarrin Ahmed
People embrace behind the police line across the street from Chabad of Poway Synagogue in Poway, Calif., on April 27, 2019. File Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
People embrace behind the police line across the street from Chabad of Poway Synagogue in Poway, Calif., on April 27, 2019. File Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI | License Photo

July 21 (UPI) -- A man accused in a deadly shooting attack at a Southern California synagogue two years ago has pleaded guilty to the crime and will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The shooter, John Earnest, carried out the attack in April 2019 at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in San Diego. A 60-year-old woman died in the attack and multiple people were injured, including a young girl and a rabbi.

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Tuesday, Earnest pleaded guilty to all charges in San Diego Superior Court.

Earnest also pleaded guilty to arson for setting fire to an Escondido mosque a month before his attack on the synagogue. He admitted both were hate crimes.

Earnest agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a promise from prosecutors not to seek the death penalty. He will instead receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He will be sentenced Sept. 30.

During the attack, prosecutors said Earnest called 911 to say he was the shooter and claimed that Jewish people were "destroying the white race."

Tuesday's plea was related to state charges in the case. He faces similar charges in federal court, where prosecutors have until Aug. 30 to decide whether to seek the death penalty.

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Earnest has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.

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