Dor Hadash urges attorney general to abandon death penalty for Oct. 27 shooter
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Oct. 27 shootingTrial date has not yet been set

Dor Hadash urges attorney general to abandon death penalty for Oct. 27 shooter

'We are desirous of seeing justice meted out in a manner... both consistent with our religious values and that spares us from the painful ordeal of prolonged legal maneuvering'

(File photo)
(File photo)

Congregation Dor Hadash — one of the three congregations attacked in the Tree of Life building on Oct. 27, 2018 — sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Justice Department to forgo seeking the death penalty for the shooter, who is accused of murdering 11 Jews during Shabbat services. He is charged with 63 criminal counts, including federal hate crime offenses.

The June 17 letter, signed by Dor Hadash’s president Bruce Herschlag on behalf of the congregation’s board, said that it is making its request based on “both religious/ethical precepts and on concerns regarding the impact of prolonged legal proceedings on our members.”

“We are rapidly approaching the third anniversary of the October 27 attack,” the letter states. “We are desirous of seeing justice meted out in a manner that is both consistent with our religious values and that spares us from the painful ordeal of prolonged legal maneuvering leading to a lengthy trial and years of unpredictable appeals.”

The letter cites reports that the shooter is “willing to waive his right to trial and enter a guilty plea in exchange for a sentence resulting in his imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole. Given that eleven individuals were slain, the imposition of multiple life sentences would ensure that the perpetrator is never released. This is the outcome we desire.”

Citing Judaic texts, the letter notes that “even though capital crimes are enumerated in the Torah, our sages and rabbis developed a legal system that made it almost impossible for a death verdict to be rendered. Justice must be tempered by mercy.”

Of the 11 people murdered during the Oct. 27 massacre, one was a member of Dor Hadash, Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, who, according to the letter, “was firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty. A negotiated plea resulting in life in prison would honor Jerry’s memory.”

Moreover, the letter states, “a lengthy trial and years of appeals” would force members of Dor Hadash to “relive the events of October 27 in excruciating detail, whether through having to provide testimony in court or through the inevitable and inescapable daily news coverage,” and could also “impede the healing process for some of our members.”

A trial date has not been set. PJC

Toby Tabachnick

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