UNITED STATES NEWS

Judge: Synagogue massacre suspect can face death penalty

May 3, 2023, 6:05 AM | Updated: 7:02 am

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The man charged in the deadliest attack on Jewish people in U.S. history has lost another bid to get the death penalty removed as a possible punishment.

With jury selection underway at the federal trial of Robert Bowers, a judge ruled Tuesday against a defense motion that challenged the government’s pursuit of the death penalty.

U.S. District Judge Robert Colville said in his decision that Bowers’ defense team “fails entirely to establish a basis upon which the court could conclude that the government has arbitrarily sought the death penalty in this case.”

Bowers, of the Pittsburgh suburb of Baldwin, is charged with 63 criminal counts in the killings of 11 worshippers on Oct. 27, 2018, at the Tree of Life synagogue building where three congregations had gathered. The charges include 11 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religion resulting in death and 11 counts of hate crimes resulting in death.

Prosecutors say Bowers made antisemitic comments at the scene of the attacks and in earlier online forums.

More than 100 potential jurors have been questioned by prosecutors and the defense through the first seven days of jury selection, with a heavy focus on their views on a potential death sentence. The process resumed Wednesday.

Bowers’ attorneys already offered a guilty plea in return for a life sentence without parole, but prosecutors refused and are seeking the death penalty, a move most of the victims’ families support. Most of the juror questioning by Bowers’ attorneys has focused on jurors’ views on the death penalty.

In a legal filing last month, Bowers’ lawyers argued the Justice Department lacks “a discernible, principled basis” for seeking death against Bowers but not for defendants in comparable cases. The defense also objected to the procedure by which the government considered Bowers’ request to reconsider its pursuit of capital punishment.

Colville agreed with the Justice Department’s argument that Bowers failed to account for the differences between his case and the other cases for which the government did not seek the death penalty.

The synagogue massacre case has already spanned two presidencies.

Republican President Donald Trump, who was in office at the time, declared the killer should “suffer the ultimate price” and that the death penalty should be brought back “into vogue.” Federal executions resumed during Trump’s presidency after a 17-year hiatus, and 13 federal inmates were put to death during his last six months in office.

Democrat Joe Biden indicated during the 2020 campaign he would work to end the federal death penalty, but critics say he has done nothing to make that happen. The Justice Department put in place a moratorium in order to study current policies and procedures. However, that has not prevented federal prosecutors from pursuing a death sentence for Bowers.

United States News

FILE - A 9mm "ghost gun" pistol build kit with a commercial slide and barrel with a polymer frame i...

Associated Press

Massachusetts governor signs bill cracking down on hard-to-trace ‘ghost guns’

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey signed a sweeping gun bill Thursday that supporters say builds on the state’s existing gun laws, including a crackdown on hard to trace “ghost guns,” while safeguarding the rights of gun owners. The law is part of an effort by the state to respond to a 2022 U.S. […]

10 minutes ago

FILE - Misy Sifre, 17, and others protest for transgender rights at the Capitol in Salt Lake City, ...

Associated Press

Days before a Biden rule against anti-LGBTQ+ bias takes effect, judges are narrowing its reach

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — New federal court rulings are narrowing the Biden administration’s enforcement of a rule for protecting LGBTQ+ students from discrimination and allowing critics to limit it even further school by school. A federal judge in Missouri blocked enforcement of the rule in six additional states, bringing the total to 21. The decision […]

29 minutes ago

Assembly line worker Sheila Buckley tries to keep cool while on the picket line as members of Unite...

Associated Press

Workers at GM seat supplier in Missouri each tentative agreement, end strike

The union representing workers a Lear Corp. plant in Missouri that makes seats for General Motors vehicles said Thursday it reached a tentative agreement with the company, ending a strike that was in its fourth day. About 480 workers at Lear Corp. in Wentzville who walked out at midnight Sunday are back at work. They […]

41 minutes ago

Associated Press

Daughter of Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley on trial, accused of abandoning newborn in cold

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The trial began Thursday for the daughter of baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley, who is accused of abandoning her baby after giving birth in the woods in subfreezing temperatures on Christmas night in 2022. Attorneys for Alexandra Eckersley, 27, said she didn’t know she was pregnant, thought the child […]

54 minutes ago

Associated Press

Chicken wings advertised as ‘boneless’ can have bones, Ohio Supreme Court decides

Consumers cannot expect boneless chicken wings to actually be free of bones, a divided Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday, rejecting claims by a restaurant patron who suffered serious medical complications from getting a bone stuck in his throat. Michael Berkheimer was dining with his wife and friends at a wing joint in Hamilton, Ohio, and […]

1 hour ago

FILE - The sign for Norwood Hospital, a Steward Health Care hospital, is seen, June 29, 2020, in No...

Associated Press

Senate committee votes to investigate Steward Health Care bankruptcy and subpoena its CEO

BOSTON (AP) — A Senate committee voted Thursday to authorize an investigation into the bankruptcy of Steward Health Care and to subpoena the company’s CEO, Dr. Ralph de la Torre. The subpoena would compel de la Torre to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at a hearing on Sept. 12. De […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Judge: Synagogue massacre suspect can face death penalty