The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday that it will seek the death penalty against John Earnest, the 20-year-old man charged with shooting and killing congregant Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, and wounding three people, including senior Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, at Chabad of Poway in Southern California during Shabbat-morning services on April 27, 2019.
The trial is slated to begin on June 2 though attorneys are scheduled to return to court next month to figure out a likely timeline for the proceedings.
“Jury selection will take some time because potential jurors will have to be screened for their views on the death penalty,” reported The San Diego Union-Tribune.
If Earnest is convicted, the jury will then be asked to recommend whether the defendant should face capital punishment or life in prison without the possibility of parole. The judge will ultimately make the final decision.
Whether Earnest could be executed if found guilty will remain at issue after a moratorium was set in place by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year on carrying out the death penalty in California. The execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison was shuttered.
In May, Earnest was charged with 113 federal hate crime-related counts. He has pleaded not guilty to all state and federal charges.
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