Pittsburgh synagogue shooter will not pursue insanity defense
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Oct. 27 shootingUpdate on proceedings

Pittsburgh synagogue shooter will not pursue insanity defense

But the defense was given an extension of time to gather evidence pertaining to the defendant's mental health.

Greg Zanis's memorials to the 11 victims outside the Tree of Life building. (Photo by Maureen Kelly Busis)
Greg Zanis's memorials to the 11 victims outside the Tree of Life building. (Photo by Maureen Kelly Busis)

The man accused of murdering 11 Jews in the Tree of Life building on Oct. 27, 2018, will not assert an insanity defense or an intellectual disability claim, according to motions filed by his attorneys in federal court last week.

Defense lawyers, though, told Judge Donetta Ambrose that they do not yet have enough evidence regarding defendant’s mental health, and requested an extension of time — until March 1 — to continue to gather that evidence. The previous deadline was Nov. 15. Ambrose gave the defense until Jan. 31, 2022, to finish gathering mental health evidence as it pertains to the guilt phase of the trial.

Defense attorneys also asked the judge to give them until 60 days prior to the start of trial to present mental health evidence pertaining to the death penalty phase of the proceedings. Ambrose granted that request.
A trial date has not yet been set.

The judge denied a second defense motion last week in which the attorneys sought permission to file a document containing information about their client’s mental health “under seal,” and without prosecutors being allowed to see it.

Prosecutors continued to argue in their briefs last week that the defendant is unnecessarily delaying the proceedings.

“The court has also already given the defendant repeated extensions, ample time, resources, and firm directives to the defendant to make good use of this time and complete his mental health investigation and examinations,” prosecutors wrote. “Meanwhile, the defendant’s delay continues to cause the government grave prejudice and to grievously impact crime victims.” PJC

Toby Tabachnick

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