Judge denies Pittsburgh synagogue shooter’s motions to avoid death penalty
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Tree of Life ShootingDealth Penalty to be considered

Judge denies Pittsburgh synagogue shooter’s motions to avoid death penalty

Three separate motions quashed by judge

The Tree of Life building days after the attack. (Photo by Adam Reinherz)
The Tree of Life building days after the attack. (Photo by Adam Reinherz)

Judge Donetta W. Ambrose, United States Senior District Judge, entered several memorandum orders on April 6 rejecting attempts by the shooter at the Tree of Life building to avoid the death penalty if convicted of the murder of 11 Jews on Oct. 27, 2018.

In the first of three opinions, Ambrose rejected the defendant’s attempts to strike the Federal Death Penalty Act based upon the contention that the “Use” and “Implementation” execution provisions violate the anticommandeering provision of the 10th Amendment and the non-delegation doctrine of the Constitution. However, she wrote, “if the defendant is convicted on a capital count, and if the jury decides to impose the death penalty, this motion may be renewed at that time.”

In her opinion on a second motion, Ambrose denied the defendant’s request to strike the death penalty as a sentence option on the ground that it is unconstitutional as administered under the Federal Death Penalty Act and cited the defense’s failure to meet the burden of establishing that the federal death penalty as a sentencing option is an unconstitutional punishment as administered under the Federal Death Penalty Act.

In a third opinion, Ambrose rejected the defendant’s move to strike the death penalty “on the grounds that the Federal Death Penalty Act is unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s decision in Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002) and the Fifth and Eighth Amendments.”

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty following the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life building in which 11 people were murdered and several others injured. PJC

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