May 1 (UPI) — The man who confessed to shooting five people to death and wounding six others at Fort Lauderdale International Airport in 2016 will plead guilty and receive a lifetime prison sentence under an agreement released Tuesday.
Esteban Santiago’s attorneys and prosecutors reached the plea agreement for the 28-year-old military veteran ahead of a deadline to decide whether he would face the death penalty, the Miami Herald reported.
U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom said Santiago should have a mental health evaluation to make sure he is legally competent to understand his confession before he is allowed to plead guilty, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
He originally pleaded not guilty last year to 22 charges related to the shooting.
At that time, Santiago told the judge he understood each of the charges against him — which include 10 homicide-related counts and several firearms violations.
A hearing for Santiago’s plea change is expected in the next several weeks. Both sides due back in court on May 23 for the competency hearing.
Santiago, a former Army private first class who served in Iraq, was discharged in 2016 for “unsatisfactory performance,” and had been living in Anchorage, Alaska, prior to the shooting.
A relative said Santiago received psychological treatment there.