The antisemitic killer of 11 Jewish worshipers in the Tree of Life building, who was sentenced to death in August, has filed a 38-page motion seeking a new trial.
Convicted on 63 counts, including 11 for the obstruction of the free exercise of religion resulting in death, the defendant has asked U.S. District Judge Robert J. Colville for judgment of acquittal and a new trial.
Defense attorneys argue in the motion, among other things, that there was not enough evidence presented to show that their client intended to obstruct each of the victims in their free exercise of religion.
“It is not enough that evidence may have showed [he] committed an act that resulted in the obstruction of each victim’s free exercise of religious beliefs, i.e., that the attack on each victim obstructed him or her from worshipping at the Synagogue that day as planned (or from doing so in the future),” the motion states. “Rather, the government had to, but failed, to prove that [the defendant] acted with the specific intent to so obstruct each victim in such enjoyment of his or her free exercise of religious beliefs.”
The motion continues: “[N]o rational juror could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that ‘it was [the defendant’s] conscious desire or purpose to obstruct’ each victim in the enjoyment of that victim’s free exercise of religious beliefs.”
Much of the motion addresses the racial composition of the jury, arguing that some of the court’s decisions to strike particular jurors — including four Black jurors, a Hispanic juror and a Jewish juror — were improper.
Motions for acquittal and for a new trial are common after a conviction. Prosecutors will respond to the motion and the judge will rule sometime in 2024. PJC
This story is part of ongoing coverage of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial by the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle and the Pittsburgh Union Progress.