A 53-year-old American Navy veteran who shot dead Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas in February 2017 pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges on Monday, The Kansas City Star reported. Adam Purinton, who killed Kuchibhotla and wounded Alok Madasani and Ian Grillot at a bar in the city of Olathe, was sentenced to life in prison on May 4 by a Kansas state court.

Purinton pleaded guilty after his lawyers struck a plea agreement with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty. He agreed that he had targeted the men “because of their actual and perceived race, colour, religion and national origin”.

Kuchibhotla’s wife, Sunayana Dumala, did not attend the court hearing, but released a statement later in the day thanking federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Today’s change in the federal hate crime case against the murderer of my husband Srinu is a significant step to putting an end to hate crimes committed against people of colour and from different cultures,” Dumala said. “The actions of the court today send a strong message that hate is never acceptable.”

Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio said that hate crimes were evil acts, BBC reported. “While we cannot ameliorate the irreparable harm to the victims and their families, we hope that securing this guilty plea brings them some measure of closure.”

Prosecutors will now recommend that Purinton be sentenced to life in prison for three counts of charges. The defence has agreed to the sentence running consecutively to each other and to the state charge. The verdict will be announced on July 2.