Accused Pittsburgh synagogue shooter granted extension of time to plead insanity
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Accused Pittsburgh synagogue shooter granted extension of time to plead insanity

The man who murdered 11 Jews in the Tree of Life building has a six-week extension of time to declare if he will be asserting an insanity defense.

A memorial outside Tree of Life*Or L'Simcha synagogue. (Photo by Jim Busis)
A memorial outside Tree of Life*Or L'Simcha synagogue. (Photo by Jim Busis)

The man accused of murdering 11 Jews in the Tree of Life building on Oct. 27, 2018, has been granted a six-week extension of time to declare whether he will be seeking an insanity defense.

On Sept. 30, Judge Donetta Ambrose granted the extension of the deadline, previously set for Oct. 1. The defendant’s attorneys had asked for an extension until Dec. 15, citing the pandemic, among other things, as reason for their delay in gathering information pertinent in forming their decision whether to assert insanity.

“While Defendant’s request is well taken, so are the Government’s opposing arguments,” Ambrose wrote in her decision granting the extension of time, albeit for a shorter period than counsel for the defendant requested.

No trial date has been set yet in this case, although the murders were perpetrated almost three years ago.

Pursuant to Rule 12.2 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, a defendant intending to assert an insanity defense must notify the prosecution in writing within a time set by the court.

“The defense has made substantial progress,” the defense attorneys asserted in their motion for an extension of time. “However, despite diligent efforts, counsel do not yet have the information needed to make an informed and competent decision regarding Rule 12.2 notice.”

In response, prosecution attorneys wrote: “Beginning on January 22, 2020, and continuing to the present, the United States has filed numerous pleadings urging this Court to advance the mental health aspect of this capital prosecution, an issue that will require lengthy processes to resolve…. The defendant, at every turn, has resisted.” PJC

Toby Tabachnick

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