Lawyer: Synagogue massacre suspect wants plea deal
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The man charged in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre still wants to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, his lawyer said Thursday.
Judy Clarke told a judge she hopes the case against Robert Bowers can be resolved without a trial. The 46-year-old truck driver wasn’t in court.
Authorities say Bowers killed 11 people and wounded seven at Tree of Life synagogue last October. It was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors in Pittsburgh have previously indicated their intent to seek the death penalty against Bowers, but a final decision rests with the U.S. attorney general.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy Rivetti said Thursday the death penalty review process is ongoing. He said the government won’t discuss plea negotiations in open court. Both sides met on May 9.
Clarke, who is known for negotiating plea deals that helped some of the nation’s most infamous killers avoid death row, had said at Bowers’ February arraignment that he was open to such a deal, telling a judge the defense wanted to avoid a trial.
Bowers opened fire with an AR-15 rifle and other weapons during worship services inside Tree of Life, killing eight men and three women before a tactical police team tracked him down and shot him, according to state and federal affidavits. He expressed hatred of Jews during the rampage and later told police that “all these Jews need to die,” authorities said.
Bowers faces a 63-count indictment that charges him with hate crimes, obstructing religious belief and using a firearm during crimes of violence.