California man pleads guilty to 2019 murder, arson at synagogue and mosque

Defendant faces life in prison for killing.

Updated: September 18, 2021 - 4:21pm

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A California man this week pleaded guilty to a murder committed at a synagoguge in 2019, a crime for which he faces the possibility of life in prison.

John Earnest "pleaded guilty in federal court to a 113-count indictment for the religiously and racially motivated murder of one person and the attempted murders of 53 other persons," the Justice Department said in a Friday press release.

Court documents alleged that Earnest was the shooter who killed one person at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., in April of 2019.

Earnest also reportedly pleaded guilty to "attempt[ing] to set fire to the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in Escondido, California" in March of that year. 

"According to the terms of the plea agreement, the United States and Earnest will jointly recommend a sentence of life in prison followed by 30 years of imprisonment," the press release said.