Ali Muhammed Brown admitted in a New Jersey court yesterday that he killed four people. But he was only facing trial f0r killing one.
The prosecutor's office said that "in his statement to the court today Brown admitted that the killings were part of what he described as 'jihad.'"
Brown killed 19-year-old Brendan Tevlin at a New Jersey traffic light shooting three years ago. In a confession, Brown admitted to attacking Tevlin, a stranger to him, in retaliation for US military actions in the Middle East.
In 2014, Brown began a murder spree in Seattle, killing three people before being caught after shooting Tevlin who had just finished his freshman year at the University of Richmond.
Defense attorney Albert Kapin told the court on Tuesday that Brown admitted "I killed him. I shot him to death," referring to when Brown stopped Tevlin's vehicle and attacked the youth. Brown took the wheel of Tevlin's car after the murder, driving roughly a mile from the scene before fleeing.
"The mistake I made is I thought I was fighting jihad" Brown confessed to the judge when acknowledging his responsibility. Then continued, "I shot those people in Seattle, Washington, too, if you want to put that on the record," saying he carried out earlier slayings for "the same dumb reason."
Brown was referring to three people he had killed in the Seattle area at the beginning of his spree, starting with a man at Seattle's Skyway suburb, and followed by the deaths of two more men who Brown suspected were homosexuals.
Prosecutors expressed their dismay at Brown's confession, considering there was no apparent benefit to the defendant in disclosing his prior crimes besides clearing his conscience — and the development came as a surprise. "We did not negotiate with this defendant" said acting prosecutor Robert Laurino. "From the beginning, our position has been that he had plead to all charges or we would go to a trial and let the jury decide."
At the time of Brown's hearing, he was already serving a 35 year sentence, carrying a rap sheet that included a conviction for armed robbery. He pleaded guilty to "first-degree terrorism, first-degree carjacking, first-degree robbery, unlawful possession of a handgun and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose" according to NBC News.