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Jury deliberates in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial

Jurors heard from a woman who lay still next to her dying 97-year-old mother.

Pittsburgh strong: Proceeds from a T-shirt made by Sasha Hofman (Hillel) will go to the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue. Credit: Courtesy.

After hearing from 60 witnesses—all called by the prosecution—jurors began deliberations on June 15 in the trial of Robert Bowers, accused of killing 11 Jewish worshippers at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018.

A federal prosecutor told the jury that Bowers turned a sacred house of worship into a “hunting ground.” The public defender, in her closing arguments, suggested that the defendant associated Jews with supporting immigrants and was motivated by anti-immigrant rather than antisemitic sentiment.

The prosecution rebutted, saying Bowers intentionally attacked a synagogue on Shabbat in Squirrel Hill, “the center of the Jewish universe in Pittsburgh,” reported WTAE-TV, an ABC affiliate.

The day beforehand, jurors heard from the final witness, a woman who played dead alongside her dying 97-year-old mother hoping to avoid attracting the shooter’s attention.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

“There can be no forgiveness,” stated one of the congregations that is part of the synagogue that was attacked. “Forgiveness requires two components: that it is offered by the person who commits the wrong and is accepted by the person who was wronged. The shooter has not asked—and the dead cannot accept.”

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