Published on: Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Attorneys for accused synagogue shooter Robert Bowers have again asked for the death penalty to be taken off the table (article available here).

Attorneys for Mr. Bowers argue that the U.S. Department of Justice is choosing against whom to seek capital punishment in an arbitrary manner and are pursing it against their client but not in other mass shootings with similar overtones.

President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice has withdrawn the death penalty in 23 cases throughout his administration and has declined to seek the death penalty against nearly 400 other federal defendants who could be eligible for capital punishments.

Mr. Bowers, 50, is set to go to trial in three weeks on charges he gunned down 11 worshippers at a Squirrel Hill synagogue in 2018. Three congregations worshipped at the synagogue — Tree of Life Or L’Simcha, Dor Hadash and New Light.

Prosecutors were authorized to seek the death penalty against Mr. Bowers under the Trump administration. Since then, Attorney General Merrick Garland has announced a moratorium on federal executions while policies and procedures governing capital punishment are reviewed.

It is the second time attorneys for Mr. Bowers have sought to have the death penalty taken off the table in favor of a guilty plea in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole. Mr. Bowers would also waive his right to appeals as part of that request.

Mr. Bowers’ request to withdraw the death penalty was denied. The denial was not signed by Attorney General Merrick Garland and “there was no indication that the Attorney General was directly involved in the decision.”