Evidence In Case Involving Accused Synagogue Shooter To Be Laid Out In Court
There’s security camera footage, a 911 call, an alleged confession and an internet posting that police and prosecutors say point to John Timothy Earnest as the man who fatally shot one person and wounded three others at a Poway synagogue in April.
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This evidence and more could be presented at a preliminary hearing in San Diego Superior Court on Thursday as prosecutors lay out their case against Earnest.
Presiding Judge Peter Deddeh will then decide whether he heard enough evidence to hold Earnest for trial.
The 20-year-old Rancho Penasquitos man is charged with murder and three counts of attempted murder in the April 27 shooting at Chabad of Poway as well as use of an explosive in an act of terrorism at an Escondido mosque on March 24. The District Attorney’s Office has not announced whether it will seek the death penalty against Earnest.
Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, was killed at the synagogue. Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein was wounded, as were congregation members Almog Peretz and his 8-year-old niece, Noya Dahan.
Earnest also faces a 113-count federal indictment alleging hate crimes, using a firearm and obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs by using a dangerous weapon resulting in death and injury.
He has pleaded not guilty to all state and federal charges.
Among the pieces of evidence against Earnest is an open letter bearing his name, posted on the internet prior to the shooting. The letter describes his hatred of Jews, writing as if the posting will be read after he has killed as many Jews as possible.
The posting was spotted ahead of time and forwarded by a tipster to the FBI, but too late for investigators to identify and stop the author.
Security camera footage inside the synagogue shows the shootings, according to authorities. An off-duty Border Patrol agent fired at the fleeing gunman, but missed as the man drove away.
Minutes later, a California Highway Patrol emergency dispatcher took a 911 call from a man who said he had just “opened fire at a synagogue” and thought he had killed some people. He said he would be waiting to surrender in Rancho Bernardo, where San Diego police took Earnest into custody. They seized an AR-15 rifle and ammunition from his car.
In a court hearing Friday, Earnest’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender John O’Connell, asked the judge to allow the defendant to sit unshackled at the preliminary hearing and to wear civilian clothes instead of a jail-issued shirt and pants. The judge agreed that Earnest would not need leg and waist chains in court, based on his cooperation with jail and court deputies so far, but the judge denied the request that Earnest appear in civilian clothes.
The judge also approved a prosecution request to video record the testimony of shooting victim Peretz in case he is not available to testify during trial. Court documents said Peretz is in the United States on a traveler’s permit that has been extended once, and might not be extended a second time to enable him to stay until Earnest’s trial. The court records did not say where Peretz is from.
This article is written by Pauline Repard from The San Diego Union-Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.
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