Adam W. Purinton, the Olathe resident who was sentenced to life in prison last week for killing a Garmin engineer and wounding two other men, plans to plead guilty to hate crime charges and avoid a possible death sentence in federal court.
A change of plea hearing is set for May 21, the day Purinton turns 53 years old, before U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia, according to courtroom minutes filed on Wednesday. Purinton had previously pleaded not guilty to the hate crime charges.
A federal grand jury last June accused Purinton of shooting and killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla and attempting to kill Kuchibhotla’s friend, Alok Madasani, because of their race, color, religion or national origin. Both men hailed from India.
Purinton was already facing charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder in state court. He pleaded guilty to those charges in March, culminating in his life sentence last week in Johnson County District Court.
Purinton could have faced the death penalty for the federal hate crime charges. That determination would have been up to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had yet to make a decision. Purinton’s change of plea presumably takes the death penalty off the table.
A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister did not return a call seeking comment. Purinton’s attorneys with the Federal Public Defender’s office could not be reached for comment.
Purinton shot Kuchibhotla and Madasani, who worked as engineers at Garmin, at Austin’s Bar & Grill in Olathe in February 2017 after reportedly yelling at them to “get out of my country.”
Kuchibhotla, 32, died at a hospital shortly afterward. Madasani, 32, survived. Another bar patron, Grandview resident Ian Grillot, 24, was shot in the hand and chest after he sought to intervene. He also survived.
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.