A US federal jury delivered a unanimous vote for the death penalty in the case of the attacker responsible for the horrifying massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018, where 11 people lost their lives.
Speaking to the media, US Attorney Eric Olshan stated, “This is a case that calls for the most severe punishment under the law – the death penalty.”
The decision required a unanimous vote from the 12-member jury, and prosecutors had strongly urged them to choose the death penalty.
The same jury had previously found the man guilty on all 63 charges related to the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue, making it the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history.
The verdict was presented to US District Court Judge Robert Colville on Wednesday, who is now expected to carry out the jury’s ruling.
The jury deliberated for 10 hours spread over two days before reaching their decision.
The attacker, Robert Bowers, brutally killed 11 worshippers, aged between 54 and 97, during the tragic incident. Additionally, seven others were injured, including five police officers who rushed to the scene.
The Tree of Life synagogue was shared by three congregations: Dor Hadash, New Light, and the Tree of Life.
Most of the families of the victims supported the death penalty for Bowers, seeking justice for the heinous crime. However, some, like the Dor Hadash congregation, expressed their opposition to the capital punishment.
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Congregation, who survived the attack, stated, “Now that the trial is nearly over and the jury has recommended a death sentence, it is my hope that we can begin to heal and move forward.”
Prosecutors argued that the death penalty was warranted due to Bowers’ continued hatred for Jews and his lack of remorse for his actions.
Bowers’ defense claimed that he suffers from mental health issues, which result in delusional beliefs about Jewish people.
However, the jury unanimously rejected the defense’s argument, stating that they failed to prove the gunman suffered from a mental disorder or committed the crimes under emotional disturbance.
Furthermore, the jury ruled that all five aggravating factors in the case were proven, including Bowers’ act of killing the worshippers inside the synagogue and the lasting impact on the survivors.
The sentence now awaits Judge Colville’s formal imposition, and the community seeks a sense of closure and healing after the painful trial.Email your news TIPS to Editor@kahawatungu.com or WhatsApp +254707482874