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Jury resumes deliberating potential death penalty for Pittsburgh synagogue shooter

Jurors meet for second day to decide whether Robert Bowers should be executed or serve life in prison for killing 11 worshipers in worst antisemitic attack in US history

PITTSBURGH — A jury resumed deliberations Wednesday over the sentence for a gunman who killed 11 Jewish worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, weighing the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Jurors deliberated about seven hours Tuesday before being sent home. Deliberations resumed around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Robert Bowers perpetrated the deadliest antisemitic attack in US history when he stormed the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018 and opened fire, killing members of three congregations who had gathered for Sabbath worship and study.

The 50-year-old truck driver was convicted in June of 63 federal counts, including hate crimes resulting in death and obstruction of the free exercise of religion resulting in death.

Prosecutors have called for Bowers to be put to death, saying the attack was motivated by his hatred of Jews. Bowers spread antisemitic content online before the attack and told police at the scene that “all these Jews must die.” He has since expressed pride in the killings.

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Bowers’ lawyers asked jurors to spare his life, asserting that he acted out of a delusional belief that Jewish people were helping to bring about a genocide of white people. They said he has severe mental illness and endured a difficult childhood.

Composite photo: A makeshift memorial stands outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting in Pittsburgh, Oct. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File); Inset: An undated Pennsylvania Department of Transportation photo shows Robert Bowers, convicted of shooting and killing 11 worshipers at the synagogue. (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation via AP, File)

Bowers, who was armed with an AR-15 rifle and other weapons, also shot and wounded seven people, including five responding police officers.