A 22-year-old former nursing student pleaded guilty to murder on Tuesday for the 2019 attack on a California synagogue that killed a 60-year-old and wounded three others. John T. Earnest entered the plea for murder and attempted murder in the case. State prosecutors said Earnest entered the Chabad of Poway in San Diego in April 2019 and opened fire, his goal being to kill as many Jewish people as possible because he believed they wanted to “destroy all white people.” The shooting left 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye dead and injured three others, including an 8-year-old girl and the synagogue’s rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein. Goldstein was invited to the White House that September by then-President Donald Trump.
As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop the death penalty and sentence Earnest to life in prison without parole. “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,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement. Earnest will be sentenced on Sept. 30, though federal prosecutors—to whom Earnest submitted a conditional plea on June 4, which has yet to be approved—could still hit Earnest with federal hate crime and murder charges.