Washington DC (USA): A US Navy veteran who killed Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla in a racially motivated hate crime at a bar in Kansas City last year has been sentenced to life in prison.
In March this year, Adam Purinton, 52, had pleaded guilty to the charges of murdering Kuchibhotla.
He was charged with first-degree murder of Kuchibhotla, 32, and two counts of attempted first-degree murder in the shootings of his friend, Alok Madasani, and a bystander, who chased Purinton after he fled the Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe city on February 22 last year.
Witnesses said Purinton, who is white, uttered racial slurs at Kuchibhotla and his friend, Madasani, both 32, as they enjoyed an after-work drink. He was asked to leave but eventually returned and yelled “Get out of my country!” before firing at the men. A third man, Ian Grillot, was wounded when he tried to intervene.
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A federal judge in Kansas yesterday sentenced Purinton to life in prison for the first-degree murder of Kuchibhotla and 165 months imprisonment for each of the other two murder charges.
“We were supposed to be together for lifetime”
Kuchibhotla and Madasani immigrated to the U.S. as students and were working as engineers at GPS-maker Garmin at the time of the shooting. Madasani told detectives that the gunman asked the men if their “status was legal” before he opened fire, according to a court affidavit.
None of the victims or their family members attended Friday’s sentencing. But Kuchibhotla’s widow, Sunayana Dumala, said in a statement directed to Purinton that she wished he could have seen beyond her husband’s skin color to “the beautiful and kindhearted person underneath it.”
She said the couple was looking forward to raising a family in the dream home they had found in Kansas.
“We were supposed to be together for lifetime but now the thought of having to live life alone and the hardships that come with it is unbearable,” she wrote.
Dumala said her husband was working on several large contracts at Garmin when he was killed and those contracts will provide jobs to many people. “Imagine how much more he could have achieved and contributed to the community if not for your anger and hatred.”
“I hope in the years that you must spend in the jail you will one day realize the magnitude of your mistake and work toward your penance,” she said.
The attacker plead guilty
Purinton still faces federal hate crime charges for the shooting and is scheduled for a change of plea hearing May 21.
After the shooting, Purinton drove 110 kilometers to Clinton, Missouri, where he confessed the shooting to a bartender at a restaurant.
In a written statement filed when he pleaded guilty in March, Purinton said he accepted full responsibility for the “grievous harm” he caused the victims, their families and the community.
“I hope that this plea might, in some small way, help reduce the suffering that I have caused them all,” he said in his statement.
Purinton, a Navy veteran, was a regular customer at Austin’s. Neighbors in the Olathe neighborhood where he lived told The Associated Press that he became “a drunken mess” following his father’s death about two years before the shooting and had physically and mentally deteriorated.