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Tree of Life demolition begins, prosecutors slam Bowers’s appeal request

Attorneys for the death-row resident again seek to argue that the murders were not driven by antisemitism.

A makeshift shrine to the victims of the mass shooting on Oct. 27 at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Oct. 30, 2018. Credit: Brendt A. Petersen/Shutterstock.
A makeshift shrine to the victims of the mass shooting on Oct. 27 at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Oct. 30, 2018. Credit: Brendt A. Petersen/Shutterstock.

The man convicted of the mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue that left 11 Jewish worshippers dead has filed a request for a new trial.

Robert Bowers, who was convicted on 63 federal charges and sentenced to death, has instructed his lawyers to call for an appeal on the grounds that the jury did not understand the argument that anti-immigration sentiment had driven the killings, not antisemitism.

“The jury considered the defendant’s argument at the close of the guilt phase and squarely rejected it,” prosecutors wrote in a filing.

On Wednesday, the demolition of the Tree of Life synagogue began. Plans call for the removal of approximately 80% of the building, to be replaced by a memorial for Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil and David Rosenthal, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Dan Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger.

Congregation president Alan Hausman stated that “this is just another chapter in our evolution of what the Tree of Life congregation should look like, where we can do so much more than just be a synagogue.”

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