Twenty-two people are expected to present victim impact statements Thursday before U.S. District Judge Robert Colville sentences the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter to death.
The U.S. attorney’s office said the statements will be limited so that the sentencing can be finished Thursday.
A federal court jury on Wednesday imposed a death sentence on Robert Bowers for the mass slaughter of worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue building on Oct. 27, 2018.
While many family members of the 11 victims have already testified at length during the trial, they have the right to testify at sentencing under the Crime Victims Rights Act.
Federal prosecutors said the 22 family members intend to exercise that right. Normally, victims testify in order to persuade a judge into imposing a harsher sentence than the defense is requesting. That’s not the case in USA v. Robert Bowers because a death sentence is the only option.
Prosecutors said the victims have the right to be heard and that the defense will not be allowed to cross-examine them.
It’s not clear if Bowers will choose to make a statement although he has that right.
Bowers, 50, rampaged through the Tree of Life building with an AR-15, shooting everyone he came across, because of a hatred of Jews. Prosecutors said he blamed Jews for helping to bring refugees and migrants into the U.S. to replace white people. They said he has shown no remorse and remains proud of what he did.
The crime was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.
Bowers is the fourth defendant in the history of the Western District of Pennsylvania to face the federal death penalty. None of the others received a death sentence. PJC
All federal executions are carried out in the federal death chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana. PJC
Torsten Ove writes for the Pittsburgh Union Progress. He can be reached at email@example.com. This story is part of ongoing coverage of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial by the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle and the Pittsburgh Union Progress in a collaboration supported by funding from the Pittsburgh Media Partnership.