A truck driver accused of killing 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue in October 2018 has been convicted of 63 offenses, including hate crimes resulting in death.
Robert Bowers, 50, faces the death penalty after carrying out the deadliest attack ever on American Jewry.
It will be up to the jury to decide whether he should be executed or sentenced to life imprisonment. A decision is expected in about six weeks.
Armed with an AR-15 rifle and three handguns, Bowers opened fire on synagogue worshipers, killing 11 people and wounding seven others – including five police officers – before surrendering.
Prosecutors say Bowers displayed a deep hatred of Jews and immigrants, pouring out on social media and sharing or liking anti-Semitic posts.
The jury heard he called Jews “public enemy No. 1” and praised Hitler and the Holocaust.
“The message the defendant chose to tell the world about himself was clear and unambiguous: he is filled with hatred for Jews,” said federal prosecutor Mary Hahn in her closing argument.
Bowers did not call any witnesses in his defense, with his attorneys focusing on trying to avoid a death sentence.
However, the Justice Department rejected offers of a plea deal under which it would admit the offenses in exchange for a life sentence without parole.
During the three-week trial, the jury heard harrowing testimony about how the events unfolded that day.
They cowered for safety as Bowers scoured the synagogue for victims.
“We were filled with terror,” said Andrea Wedner, whose right arm was shattered by bullets as she sheltered her dying 97-year-old mother.
The jury also heard emergency calls and even the sound of bullets being fired. Graphic images were shown of the victims.
Of the 63 counts, 22 carry the death penalty.
He was convicted of 11 counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and 11 other counts of hate crimes resulting in death.
Other counts included 24 counts of discharging a firearm and eight counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs involving attempted murder.
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