Widow of Srinivas Kuchibhotla sends message as killer is sentenced for Austins shooting
Those sentences handed down in federal court will run consecutively to another life sentence 53-year-old Adam W. Purinton previously received for first-degree murder in Johnson County District Court.
None of his victims were in court Tuesday.
A prosecutor read a statement from Sunayana Dumala, the widow of Srinivas Kuchibhotla. Purinton killed Kuchibhotla on Feb. 22, 2017, at Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe and wounded two others.
Tuesday was Dumala’s 34th birthday, and she said in her statement that it is “extremely painful for me to witness or face the shooter in person.”
“If you could have kept your anger inside and spoke to my husband softly, Srinu would have been more than happy to share his background and help you understand that not every brown skinned person is suspicious or evil, but kind, smart and contributing to America,” she said in Tuesday’s statement. “Instead you chose to rage and bully in anger and when you were stopped, you decided to take their lives.”
Kuchibhotla, a citizen of India who worked as an engineer for Garmin, was having an after-work drink with a co-worker who was also from India.
Purinton began verbally harassing them, demanding to know where they were from and yelling at them to “get out of my country.”
Other bar patrons stepped forward, told Purinton to leave and escorted him out of the business.
A short time later, Purinton returned with a handgun. He wrapped a scarf around his face to hide his identity and barged in, firing multiple shots at Kuchibhotla and his friend, Alok Madasani.
As Purinton fled, Ian Grillot, one of the patrons who had intervened earlier, ran after him. Purinton turned and shot Grillot before fleeing from the area.
Kuchibhotla was hit by at least four shots and died. Madasani and Grillot survived.
Purinton was arrested several hours later in Clinton, Mo., where he had told a bartender he was running from the police because he killed “two Iranians.”
He was charged in Johnson County District Court with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Federal prosecutors later charged him under federal hate crime statutes that carried a potential death sentence.
“No matter who you are, what you believe, or how you worship, you should be able to live without fear of becoming a victim of hate crimes. We hope today’s sentencing brings some closure for the victims and their families,” Stephen McAllister, U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas said Tuesday in a written statement.
Purinton pleaded guilty to the state charges in March and in May was sentenced in Johnson County to maximum consecutive sentences, ensuring that he would have to serve 77 years before becoming eligible for parole.
A few weeks later, Purinton pleaded guilty to the federal hate crime charges. Prosecutors agreed to not seek a death sentence as part of the plea agreement that called for three consecutive life sentences to run consecutively to the Johnson County sentence.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia followed the terms of the plea agreement.
Purinton did not comment in court on Tuesday.
He said in a previously filed written document in the Johnson County case that he accepted full responsibility for the “grievous harm” he had caused.
“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. “I do not want the families to have to go through lengthy pretrial hearings, a trial or possible appeals in this case.”
Before he was sentenced Tuesday, a 25-minute video and slide show of Kuchibhotla’s life was played in the courtroom.
Purinton avoided watching the video, instead taking notes and conferring with one of this lawyers while it was played.