SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A young man who carried out a hate-motivated shooting at the Chabad of Poway that killed one woman and injured three other people pleaded guilty Tuesday to murder and other state charges.
In exchange for his pleas, 22-year-old John Earnest is expected to be sentenced on Sept. 30 to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 137 years to life, for the April 27, 2019, shooting. He also pleaded guilty to an arson charge for setting fire to the Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque in Escondido on March 24, 2019.
He previously admitted to both the shooting and the mosque fire in an online open letter in which he espoused flagrant anti-Semitic sentiments and a need to protect the “European race.”
State prosecutors announced last year that they would seek the death penalty against Earnest, but capital punishment will no longer be pursued in light of his pleas to all charges and allegations filed against him, which include hate crime allegations specifying that the crimes were carried out because of the victims’ race.
Last month, Earnest agreed to a conditional plea agreement on federal charges stemming from the shooting, though federal prosecutors said at a June hearing that the plea agreement still required approval from “the appropriate decision-makers,” who will determine whether to accept or reject it, meaning Earnest still could go to trial on more than 100 federal counts.