California shooting suspect who killed seven fellow farm workers faces death penalty
Eva Deschamps / January 27, 2023
Chunli Zhao, 66, was arrested on Monday in front of the Half Moon Bay police station, shortly after the two attacks on farms in this city near San Francisco.
The man suspected of killing seven fellow California farmworkers and injuring another faces the death penalty if convicted, a prosecutor said Wednesday in his first court appearance.
Chunli Zhao is expected to face seven counts of homicide and one count of attempted homicide, and what prosecutors call a special circumstance for multiple murders. His lawyer has asked that his formal indictment be postponed.
Judge Susan Jakubowski ordered that Chunli Zhao remain in custody, and that he appear again on February 16. The special circumstance could earn him "a life sentence or the death penalty," San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe told the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
Chunli Zhao and his wife lived, along with other employees, at the Mountain Mushroom Farms site where the first attack took place.
A former colleague of the suspect, with whom he would have worked in a restaurant, had obtained a removal order against him because of violence, reported Tuesday the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
"Today I'm going to kill you," Chunli Zhao allegedly told him before trying to smother him with a pillow.
Monday's shooting, less than 48 hours after 11 people were killed at a popular Asian ballroom near Los Angeles, shocked California's large Asian American community.