update deskU.S. News

Federal jury returns death-penalty verdict for Pittsburgh synagogue shooter

Jurors agreed unanimously that Robert Bowers should be sentenced to death, which the judge is slated to do formally on Aug. 3.

A makeshift shrine to the victims of the mass shooting at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Credit: Brendt A. Petersen.
A makeshift shrine to the victims of the mass shooting at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Credit: Brendt A. Petersen.

A Pittsburgh jury agreed unanimously on Wednesday that Robert Bowers, 50, should be put to death for killing 11 Jewish worshippers at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018.

The judge will formally sentence the convicted killer on Aug. 3.

“As we collectively process the jury’s decision today, what should always be top of mind is the memory of the 11 people murdered in a synagogue while at prayer by a cold-blooded hater of Jews,” said the American Jewish Committee.

“Ultimately, what is of most significance is not how the shooter will spend the end of his life, but the fact that the U.S. government pursued this case with vigor and demonstrated that such crimes will not be countenanced, excused or minimized,” AJC added.

The Mallinger and Wedner families stated that “although we will never attain closure from the loss of our beloved Rose Mallinger, we now feel a measure of justice has been served.”

“This sentence is a testament to our justice system and a message to all that this type of heinous act will not be tolerated,” the families added.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh expressed gratitude to the prosecution for its “meticulous process to seek justice for the victims,” and to the jury for “their time and dedication in reaching this sentence.”

“This trial shows that our justice system can work by giving a voice to the voiceless and by ensuring that we, as a society, can bring the perpetrator of this horrendous attack to account,” it stated.

“I hope that we can use this decision to start a new chapter that uplifts and protects our city’s Jewish community,” stated Ed Gainey, the mayor of Pittsburgh.

“But, above all, I hope today’s decision provides a measure of peace for the friends and family of Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Melvin Wax, Daniel Stein, Irving Younger, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Joyce Feinberg, Richard Gottfried, Cecil Rosenthal and David Rosenthal,” the mayor stated. “May their memories be a blessing today and every day. And may we continue to stand together as one Pittsburgh that’s stronger than hate.”

Erika Strassburger, a Pittsburgh City Council member who represents parts of the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the shooting took place, said the trial has presented “a test of one’s stance on the death penalty for many in our community.”

“It is easier to say the state has no right to take life in the abstract than it is when the offender has taken the lives of those in your neighborhood, your faith congregation or your family,” she added. “We will never be able to reclaim the lives taken that day, but we will honor their memories, continue the long, uneven process of healing and resolve to fight hate in all its forms, wherever it lingers.”

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