The Pittsburgh synagogue gunman should be eligible for the death penalty, prosecutor argues

by | Jul 13, 2023 | Religion

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The gunman who committed the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history should be deemed eligible for the death penalty because he intentionally planned the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and preyed on vulnerable victims as they were beginning Sabbath worship, a prosecutor urged jurors on Wednesday.“On Oct. 27, 2018, this defendant violated the safe, holy sanctuary that was the Tree of Life synagogue. He turned it into a killing ground,” prosecutor Soo Song told jurors in the sentencing phase for Robert Bowers, who was convicted last month in the attack that claimed 11 lives.
But Bowers’ defense lawyer, Michael Burt, cited expert witnesses to bolster the claim that a “delusional belief system took over his thinking,” which left him unable to do anything but “following the dictates” of those delusional thoughts.
Jurors deliberated for about an hour Wednesday afternoon and will resume Thursday morning. They will decide whether Bowers is eligible for the death penalty — a preliminary stage in the sentencing process, which is in its third week.
If it determines Bowers is eligible, the jury would then hear evidence in the coming weeks before deciding whether to impose the death penalty. If it determines he is not eligible, Bowers will receive a life sentence without parole, Judge Robert Colville said during jury instruction Wednesday morning. …

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