Pittsburgh synagogue attacker is found eligible for death penalty

A federal jury decided that the Pittsburgh synagogue attacker, who committed the deadliest antisemitic attack in US history, is eligible for the death penalty.

A federal jury decided that Robert Bowers, who killed 11 worshippers in 2018 at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, is eligible for the death penalty, reports The Jerusalem Post.

Last month, the jury found Bowers guilty of dozens of federal hate crimes. Federal prosecutors charged him with 63 counts, including 11 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death. He was found guilty on all counts. He reportedly yelled, „All Jews must die!” during the rampage and had expressed strong antisemitic views online ahead of the attack. However, Bowers’ defence team has argued that the defendant has schizophrenia.

In the first phase of sentencing, the jury briefly deliberated before deciding that Bowers was eligible for the death penalty. In the final phase, prosecutors and defence attorneys will have the chance to argue whether he deserves the death penalty. The jury will then go back and decide on Bowers’ fate.

In federal capital cases, a unanimous vote by jurors in a separate penalty phase of the trial is required in order to sentence a defendant to death, and the judge cannot reject the jury’s vote. If jurors cannot reach a unanimous decision, the offender is instead sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.


Photo credit: Jared Wickerham / EPA file