Feds seek death penalty in Pittsburgh synagogue massacre
A man charged with killing 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue should face the death penalty if convicted, federal prosecutors said in a court filing today.
The U.S. attorney's office in Pittsburgh filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty against 46-year-old Robert Bowers in last year's attack.
The government filing said justification for a death sentence included allegations of substantial planning and premeditation, the vulnerability and number of victims, and a motivation of religious hostility.
It also listed the injury, harm and loss caused to the victims and the choice of the Tree of Life synagogue as the site of the attack.
The notice accused Bowers of targeting the worshipers "in order to maximize the devastation, amplify the harm of his crimes, and instill fear within the local, national and international Jewish communities."
Bowers has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial. His lawyers did not return messages seeking comment. A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Scott Brady declined to discuss the filing.
Prosecutors wrote that the death penalty will be justified if Bowers is convicted of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death or of using a gun to commit a crime of violence.
Bowers is accused of using an AR-15 rifle and other weapons to target worshippers in the Tree of Life synagogue during Saturday morning services in October. Seven people were also wounded, including five police officers.
Police have said he expressed hatred of Jews during and after what was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.