The trial of the man accused of murdering 11 Jews while they were worshipping in the Tree of Life building will likely begin between March and June of 2023, U.S. District Judge Robert Colville said Wednesday during a status conference for the case.
Colville acknowledged, though, that the timeline could change depending on input from the prosecution and the defense.
The massacre, which took the lives of 11 congregants of three congregations — Dor Hadash, New Light and Tree of Life — and left six other people seriously injured, occurred on Oct. 27, 2018. If the trial does begin next spring, more than four years will have passed since the attack.
The defendant is facing more than 60 charges, including hate crimes. The government seeks the death penalty.
Attorneys for the prosecution and defense next meet with the judge on Aug. 15 to discuss how many days they estimate the trial will last and other procedural matters.
Prosecutors previously proposed the trial begin in the fall of 2022, but the defense opposed that timeline, saying it would not be prepared that soon.
At the June 29 status conference, Colville instructed all attorneys involved “to prioritize this case from March to August of 2023.”
While he said he was unsure which “part of that window we’re looking at,” he acknowledged there would be “a lot of moving parts and a lot of people who are going to need to be in one location.”
Colville previously said he planned to wait until December to set a trial date, but prosecutors requested that he expedite the timeline. Assistant U.S. Attorney Soo Song said that many victims of the attack “will also be fact witnesses” and that “the most meaningful way to guarantee that the victims can be present at trial and bear witness at trial, if they are witnesses, and prevent further delay is to set the trial date.” PJC
— Toby Tabachnick