The man suspected of killing seven of his fellow farm workers and injuring another in California in mid-January pleaded not guilty on Thursday, according to several American media outlets.
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Zhao Chunli is accused of carrying out two attacks on mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay near San Francisco.
This 66-year-old Chinese man, who has lived in the United States for more than ten years, appeared in court in Redwood City, Northern California. He was charged with murder and attempted murder and, through his interpreter, denied all charges against him, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
While most of the victims were also Chinese, two were Mexican.
The suspect lived with his wife on the farm where the first attack took place. Initial findings from the investigation show that the shooting may have been motivated by a work-related dispute, according to prosecutors.
A few days after his arrest, Mr. Zhao admitted his guilt to an NBC reporter during a prison visit.
He then explained his gesture by saying he suffered from mental disorders and citing years of overhauling the court.
Zhao Chunli’s murder came less than 48 hours after another massacre in California, led by a seventy-year-old Asian man, left 11 dead at a dance hall near Los Angeles.
These two carnages, carried out with semi-automatic weapons, have deeply shocked the Asian community in the United States.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the judge ordered Mr. Zhao’s reappearance on May 3.