SAN DIEGO (AP) – A 22-year-old white supremacist was denied a chance to speak in a courtroom before a judge sentenced him to life in prison without parole on Thursday for breaking into a Southern California synagogue on the last day of Passover, with a semio-automatic rifle. Killed the worshiper and wounded three others.
An agreement with prosecutors that protected John Tike. Ernst kept some suspense about the outcome of the execution, but the hearing gave the 13 victims and their families a chance to deal with the killer and gave the final feel of a case to explain how hate speech could happen online. Towards violent violence. Many recounted how their lives were ruined and how determined they were to persevere despite such devastating losses.
Ernest’s attorney John O’Connell said his client wanted to make a statement but San Diego Superior Court Judge Peter Dedeh denied it, saying he did not want to create “a political forum” for white supremacists. Ernest did not speak publicly or deny previous statements.
“I will not allow him to use it as a platform to add his celebrity,” the judge said, adding that Ernest made remarks to police when he was arrested, gestured to the audience during a previous hearing and reported during his trial.
Ernest, who was tied to a device that prevented him from confronting the audience, showed no visible reaction during the two-hour hearing because speakers called him a low-life coward, evil creature and monster.
A prosecutor asked Dedek to reconsider not allowing Ernest to speak after talking to the defense attorney about the content of his remarks, but the judge did not give up.
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephen, who listens to the victims from the front row seat, told reporters that Ernest’s planned statement was “more hate and propaganda” and the judge made the right call. The prosecutor asked the judge to reconsider so that Ernest complained that he had been treated unfairly.
Ernest’s court-appointed attorney declined to speak to reporters. Her parents did not show up.
Minutes after the shooting, Ernest called a man sending 911 to say he had shot at the shrine to save whites. “I am defending our nation against the Jews, who are trying to destroy all whites,” he said.
The San Diego man was inspired by the mass shootings on April 27, 2019, shortly before he attacked a shrine near San Diego, Chavez in Powai, at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, and at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. A dark corner of the internet for those dissatisfied with mainstream social media sites for posting extremist, racist and violent opinions.
The federal affidavit states that Ernest legally purchased a semi-automatic rifle in San Diego the day before the attack. He loaded 10 bullets and entered the shrine with 50 more in his vest but escaped struggling to reload. Worshipers chased him to his car.
Ernest killed 60-year-old Laurie Gilbert-Kaye, who was hit twice in the foyer, and injured his 8-year-old daughter, her uncle, and Rabbi Israel Goldstein, who was leading a service on a major Jewish holiday.
Dr. Howard Kaye, husband of 32-year-old Laurie, said he continued to practice his rheumatology so that people with his faith could help heal regardless of their background but it was sometimes difficult for him and their daughter to continue. She said Laurie was active in charity and left a banking profession to raise their daughter.
“She’s a superior person and a great woman,” Howard Kaye said.
Hannah Kaye said her mother was a victim of the “ancient hatred” of the Jews. He described their last day together during a home visit from college: their “deep and humorous conversation” in the car, a final hug for his mother’s care and how he grabbed her mother’s head and said he loved her dying.
When she entered her seventies, Laurie Gilbert-Kay had a lot of desire, Hannah said, to study law school, run a hot air balloon and own her restaurant which serves her father’s barbecue.
“She wanted to live another day, she wanted to live,” Hannah said of her mother’s last moments.
Alamg Peretz, who was shot with his 8-year-old niece, was emotionally unprepared to attend the hearing but read his statement on how a Hebrew translator killed “my body and soul.” He said his dreams are haunted and others now define him as a “terrorist victim”.
Speaking of work and friendship, Peretz said, “I have no motivation to look at things in the end.”
Ernest’s parents issued a statement of grief and sorrow after the shooting, calling their son’s actions a “terrible mystery.” Their son is a talented student, athlete and musician who was studying to become a nurse at California State University, San Marcos.
“To our great shame, he is now part of the evil history that has befallen the Jews for many centuries,” they said.
He was convicted of murder and attempted murder in a synagogue and sentenced to life without parole, 137 years in prison for setting fire to a nearby mosque.
Ernest was also sentenced in federal court on December 2. The judiciary said it would not seek the death penalty. Defense attorneys and prosecutors are recommending life imprisonment.
Prosecutions in state and federal courts “put me to sleep better at night,” said district attorney Stephen.
He said the attack was “racism, antisemitism and all kinds of hatred that were all wrapped up in one.”
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