REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Jan 25 (Reuters) – An immigrant farm employee accused of capturing seven folks to demise close to San Francisco, a few of them his co-workers, made his first courtroom look on Wednesday after he was charged with homicide in California’s second lethal gun rampage in latest days.
Chunli Zhao, 66, the lone suspect in Monday’s bloodbath at two mushroom farms within the seaside city of Half Moon Bay, was formally introduced with seven counts of premeditated homicide and a single rely of tried homicide lodged in a prison grievance filed by native prosecutors.
Zhao, handcuffed and garbed in a crimson jumpsuit, was ordered held with out bond throughout a short listening to earlier than a decide in San Mateo County Superior Courtroom in close by Redwood Metropolis, California. He was assigned two non-public protection legal professionals, however no plea was entered.
The following courtroom continuing within the case was set for Feb. 16.
A Mandarin-language translator was supplied for the defendant, who in response to District Lawyer Steve Wagstaffe is a Chinese language citizen who has resided in the US for not less than 10 years.
After the listening to, Wagstaffe instructed reporters outdoors the courthouse that prosecutors haven’t but decided Zhao’s exact immigration standing, or whether or not he entered the nation legally.
The prosecutor mentioned authorities do have an thought concerning the suspect’s motives however declined to share that with reporters.
The district legal professional additionally mentioned Zhao was “cooperative with sheriff’s detectives” who initially interviewed him via a Mandarin interpreter following his arrest and gave “a whole assertion.”
Nonetheless, the expectation is that he’ll enter a not-guilty plea because the continuing progress, “and we need to ensure this man will get a good trial,” Wagstaffe mentioned.
Along with the eight felony counts it accommodates, the 10-page prison grievance alleges “particular circumstances” accusing Zhao of “personally and deliberately” capturing to kill.
California regulation declares that defendants convicted of homicide with “particular circumstances” could be eligible for the demise penalty, however Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019 declared a moratorium on executions. The state has not executed a condemned inmate since 2006.
In any other case, the utmost sentence carried by the fees is life in jail with out the potential of parole, Wagstaffe mentioned.
In a while Wednesday, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, a California native, deliberate to journey to the Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park, web site of the primary of the latest lethal rampages. She was anticipated to fulfill with some households of the 11 individuals who have been fatally shot in a dance corridor on Saturday evening by a gunman who later took his personal life.
Coming in fast succession, the 2 shootings left California reeling from one of many bloodiest spates of mass gun violence in a long time in a state with among the strictest firearm legal guidelines within the nation.
Authorities mentioned that every of the 2 killing sprees represented the one best lack of life from a single act of violence in Los Angeles and San Mateo counties, respectively.
Requested if investigators believed the Half Moon Bay killings have been a “copy-cat” crime, impressed by the capturing rampage in Monterey Park two days earlier, Wagstaffe mentioned flatly, “No.”
Zhao was taken into custody on Monday night outdoors a sheriff’s station, the place police mentioned he had pushed shortly after the assault on farm staff.
The exact motive for the capturing remained unclear. Zhao had been employed by one of many growers, Mountain Mushroom Farm, and had resided on the property together with another workers, in response to a spokesperson for California Terra Gardens, which owns the farm. Authorities mentioned early proof indicated the bloodshed stemmed from a office grievance. The second crime scene, Harmony Farms, is a few mile away.
Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer in Half Moon Bay, Calif.; Further reporting Tim Reid, Gabriella Borter, Wealthy McKay, Brendan O’Brien, Brad Brooks, Jonathan Allen, Joseph Ax, Dan Whitcomb, Eric Beech, Omar Younis and Timothy Gardner; Writing and extra reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Enhancing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and David Gregorio
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