(JTA) — California prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty against the gunman who allegedly opened fire on the Chabad of Poway synagogue, leaving one congregant dead.
Prosecutors from the San Diego County district attorney’s office said during a court hearing Thursday that they will ask for the death sentence against John Earnest, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The request comes even though California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order last year placing a moratorium on executions.
Earnest, 20, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder in connection with the 2019 attack. The murder charge is classified as a hate crime, making Earnest eligible for the death penalty. Earnest told a 911 operator right after the attack that he did it to save white people from Jews.
Earnest also pleaded not guilty in May to over 100 hate crime and other charges in federal court. Prosecutors in the federal case have not decided whether to seek the death penalty.
The attack killed one congregant, Lori Gilbert-Kaye, and left three people wounded, including the now-retired rabbi of the Poway Chabad, who was shot in both hands and lost his index finger.