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Furrow pleads guilty to shootings, will avoid death penalty, get life without parole

furrow
Furrow is shown with an ATF agent in this undated file photo  

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Buford O. Furrow Jr., the accused shooter in a hate crime that left a postal carrier dead and five others wounded at a Jewish community center in 1999, entered a guilty plea Wednesday that will allow him to avoid the death penalty.

Judge Nora Manilla accepted a plea bargain, under which Furrow will be sentenced in March to life in prison without opportunity for parole.

The burley Furrow answered, "Yes, your honor" 16 times as Manilla asked if he were pleading guilty to each charge.

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He made no other comment and showed no emotion.

The mother of U.S. Postal carrier Joseph Santos Ileto, the man Furrow killed, as well as several other members of Ileto's family cried as the charges were read and the pleas were entered.

Furrow, a 38-year-old avowed white supremacist, was indicted by a federal grand jury last year on charges of murder and firearms violations stemming from the killing of Ileto.

According to the indictment, Furrow expressed no regrets over the August 1999 killing of Ileto and the wounding of five people at the North Valley Jewish Community Center.

In the 61-page indictment, Furrow told authorities he would not have killed Ileto if the Filipino-American mail carrier had been white. Furrow also said he targeted the Jewish Community Center because of his hatred of Jews.

A federal grand jury returned a 16-count criminal indictment against Furrow that included charges he committed an act of terrorism, that he was motivated by religious and racial hatred and that he would do it again, according to the court documents.

In addition to murder charges stemming from the Ileto killing, he faced a dozen other charges including hate crimes violations stemming from the shooting rampage at the North Valley Jewish Community Center's day-care facility west of downtown Los Angeles.

The 16 federal counts included:

• Murder of a federal employee of the United States which carries a potential death sentence.

• Use of a firearm during a crime of violence causing death, which also carries a potential death sentence.

• Possessing a firearm in violation of his parole as a convicted felon -- he served five months for threatening two mental hospital nurses with a knife.

The shooting rampage at the community center occurred August 10, 1999, as dozens of children were playing. Five people were wounded, including three young children. All five survived and have since physically recovered.

Furrow then allegedly carjacked a sedan belonging to a waitress and killed Ileto, a Filipino-born postman. Federal authorities called his murder a hate crime, inspired by the victim's race or nationality.

The gunman eluded a massive manhunt in Los Angeles, abandoned the stolen car and took a taxi to Las Vegas -- an $800 trip -- where he turned himself in to FBI authorities the next day. Authorities say Furrow admitted shooting Ileto and wounding five people at the Jewish community center as a "wake up call" to anti-Semites and hate groups.

It is unclear whether newly-elected Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley will try to seek the death penalty on other related charges against Furrow if the case is brought to state court.



RELATED STORIES:
Boy who almost died in L.A. shooting goes home
September 23, 1999
5-year-old victim in Jewish center shooting released in good condition
September 21, 1999
Suspect in L.A. shooting spree pleads not guilty in murder
August 30, 1999
Feds charge Jewish Center shootings suspect with killing postman
August 19, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Temple Beth Torah of Granada Hills CA
The Los Angeles Police Department
Federal Bureau of Investigation


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