If found guilty, Pittsburgh synagogue shooter’s sentencing will be in two phases
Judge rules out of "abundance of caution"
U.S. District Judge Robert J. Colville ruled on Monday, Jan. 30, that if the man accused of murdering 11 Jews in the Tree of Life building is found guilty, the sentencing portion of the case will be held in two separate phases, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
If the defendant is found guilty, victim impact testimony will be heard by the jury after the government makes its case for the death penalty.
The Tribune-Review quoted Colville as saying his ruling was based on “an abundance of caution.”
Defense attorneys, citing the Federal Death Penalty Act, argued in a motion that victim impact testimony could affect a jury’s decision about the death penalty if the phases aren’t separated.
The government is expected to present victim impact testimony about all 11 people killed in the massacre and those who survived, including members of law enforcement.
The U.S. Attorney’s office argued against the motion, saying it would unduly complicate the case and cause jury confusion and delay.
The trial is expected to begin with jury selection on April 24, four-and-a-half years after the shooting at the Tree of Life building on Oct. 27, 2018. Members of Congregation Dor Hadash, New Light Congregation and Tree of Life * Or L’Simcha were murdered during the massacre, the deadliest antisemitic attack in United States history. PJC