Headline RoundupAugust 2nd, 2023

Jury Gives Tree of Life Synagogue Shooter Death Penalty Sentence

Summary from the AllSides News Team

A federal jury on Wednesday decided Robert Bowers, the man who killed 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018, should be sentenced to death. 

Details: In June, Bowers was found guilty of 11 counts of “obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death,” a capital offense. During the trial, his lawyer did not dispute that Bower was the gunman but instead argued that Bower’s actions were not done out of a desire to obstruct worship, attempting to avoid the death penalty. The shooting was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. This sentencing is the first death sentence ruling during the Biden Administration. 

Key Quotes: The jury determined Bowers’ actions were motivated by anti-Semitic hatred, stating Bowers’ chose the Tree of Life Synagogue to “maximize the devastation, amplify the harm of his crimes, and instill fear within the local, national, and international Jewish communities.” The co-presidents of New Light Congregation, of which three victims were members, released a statement reading, “New Light Congregation accepts the jury’s decision and believes that, as a society, we need to take a stand that this act requires the ultimate penalty under the law.”

How the Media Covered It: The Washington Examiner (Lean Right bias) noted that Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro (D) opposes the death penalty. Additionally, Reuters (Center bias) noted that the U.S. Department of Justice currently has a pause on death sentences, casting uncertainty on when, if ever, Bowers will be put to death.

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