Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh
Tree of Life Synagogue in PittsburghReuters

A gunman who killed 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 ranted incessantly on social media about his hatred of Jewish people before the attack, according to evidence introduced at his federal death penalty trial on Tuesday, reports The Associated Press.

Prosecutors are trying to show Robert Bowers was motivated by extreme hostility toward Jews when he opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue during Shabbat services in the October 27, 2018 attack.

Bowers was initially indicted on 44 counts. In January of 2019, a federal grand jury added 19 charges to the 44 counts previously levied against Bowers.

He has pleaded not guilty to all 63 federal counts and faces the death penalty if convicted.

With the trial in its third week, testimony turned toward Bowers’ use of Gab — a social media platform popular with the far right — to advance his antisemitic views.

Bowers’ Gab profile said “Jews are the children of Satan,” and he posted, liked or shared a stream of virulently antisemitic content, according to dozens of examples provided to the jury on Monday and Tuesday. Bowers called Jews “public enemy number one,” according to a post read by an FBI agent, spoke approvingly of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi extermination of Jews, and shared an image that said “the only good Jew is a dead Jew.”

On the morning of the attack, Bowers posted about HIAS, a Jewish agency that helps refugees resettle in the United States.

“HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,” Bowers wrote, according to AP.

Bowers' lawyers have acknowledged he was the shooter but are trying to raise questions about motive. The defense has suggested he did not act out of religious hatred but rather a delusional belief that Jews were enabling genocide by helping immigrants come to the US.

The defense team has argued that the defendant suffers from schizophrenia. They offered a guilty plea in exchange for life in prison, which was rejected by the prosecution.

On Wednesday, Judge Robert Colville dismissed the jury and told jurors to return on Thursday to hear closing arguments, after which the jury will deliberate and deliver its verdict, according to a JTA report.

That decision was made after defense attorneys announced they will not be calling witnesses or presenting evidence in court.