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Judge sentences Pittsburgh synagogue gunman to death

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Judge sentences Pittsburgh synagogue gunman to death | The Hill









FILE - In this combo image made from photos provided by the United States District Court Western District of Pennsylvania are the victims of the Oct. 27, 2018, assault on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.. top row, from left, Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, and David Rosenthal; bottom row, from left, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Dan Stein, Melvin Wax, and Irving Younger. Robert Bowers, a truck driver who shot and killed 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the nation's deadliest attack on Jewish people, was found guilty, Friday, June 16, 2023. Bowers was tried on 63 criminal counts, including hate crimes resulting in death and obstruction of the free exercise of religion resulting in death. (United States District Court Western District of Pennsylvania via AP, File)

FILE – In this combo image made from photos provided by the United States District Court Western District of Pennsylvania are the victims of the Oct. 27, 2018, assault on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.. top row, from left, Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, and David Rosenthal; bottom row, from left, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Dan Stein, Melvin Wax, and Irving Younger. Robert Bowers, a truck driver who shot and killed 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the nation’s deadliest attack on Jewish people, was found guilty, Friday, June 16, 2023. Bowers was tried on 63 criminal counts, including hate crimes resulting in death and obstruction of the free exercise of religion resulting in death. (United States District Court Western District of Pennsylvania via AP, File)

The gunman who perpetrated the deadliest antisemitic attack in the nation’s history was sentenced to death by a judge Thursday, one day after a jury unanimously recommended capital punishment as the appropriate sentence.

Robert Bowers, a 50-year-old truck driver, killed 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018, and wounded seven people, including five police officers. He told police at the scene that “all Jews must die” and has since expressed pride in his actions. 

U.S. District Judge Robert Colville issued the formal death sentence Thursday, saying, “I have nothing specific that I care to say to Mr. Bowers. I am, however, convinced there is nothing I could say to him that might be meaningful.” 

The jury recommended the sentence unanimously on Wednesday, after finding that Bowers was motivated by his hatred of Jews. They found Bowers had no remorse for his actions and that he specifically targeted the synagogue because of its large and historic community, and so he could “maximize the devastation, amplify the harm of his crimes, and instill fear within the local, national, and international Jewish communities.”

The jury also rejected claims by the defense that Bowers had schizophrenia and was delusional in his hatred toward Jews. 

Bowers was convicted in June on 63 federal counts, including hate crimes that resulted in death and the obstruction of the free exercise of religion resulting in death. 

Victims’ family members, survivors and Jewish community leaders were present throughout the trial, and many testified about their loved ones. 

The victims of the attack include Rose Mallinger, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, David Rosenthal, Cecil Rosenthal, Dan Stein, Jerry Rabinowitz, Joyce Fienberg, Melvin Wax, Irving Younger and Richard Gottfried.

His sentence marks the first imposed by the Biden administration. President Biden pledged to end capital punishment during his 2020 campaign. The Department of Justice has placed a moratorium on federal executions and declined to pursue the death penalty in hundreds of new cases, but prosecutors argued it was appropriate in this case. 

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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