The white man accused of killing 10 black people in a racially motivated shooting spree at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket intends to plead guilty to murder and other charges next week, a lawyer for families of some of the victims says.
Peyton Gendron plans to accept responsibility for all 25 counts contained in a state criminal indictment at a hearing on Monday in Erie County Court in Buffalo, according to Terrence Connors, a lawyer for relatives of seven of the dead and two surviving victims.
Connors said there was no "plea agreement" with prosecutors. Instead, the defence team notified victims' lawyers and prosecutors three weeks ago that Gendron had decided to plead guilty to all charges, then met a judge to set a change-of-plea hearing, according to Connors.
All parties to the case were precluded from discussing it publicly until the hearing was posted on the court docket on Thursday. Gendron previously pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in June.
His lawyer, Daniel Dubois Connors, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Erie County Prosecutor's office declined to comment on Monday's hearing.
Gendron, who was 18 at the time, was indicted on 10 counts of first-degree murder and 10 counts of second-degree murder, all of them as hate crimes, as well as three counts of attempted murder and a single count of illegal weapon possession.
He also faces a single count of domestic terrorism motivated by hate, becoming the first person charged under a newly enacted New York state statute.
Described by prosecutors as an avowed white supremacist, Gendron is accused of attacking the Tops Friendly Markets store in a predominantly African-American neighbourhood of Buffalo because he was deliberately targeting black people.
The gunman streamed video of the May 14 assault to the social media platform Twitch in real time after posting material online showing he had drawn inspiration from other racially motivated mass killings, authorities said.
The guilty plea would mean the case against Gendron, who is from Conklin, New York, will not go to trial. He could face life in prison or the death penalty on the state charges.
A separate indictment returned in US District Court in July charged Gendron with 27 federal hate crimes and firearms offences, for which he could face the death penalty if convicted.