A federal jury announced on Thursday that Robert Bowers, who murdered 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is eligible to receive the death penalty.
The government is seeking capital punishment for the gunman, who ranted against Jews online before storming the synagogue with an AR-15 rifle and other weapons in the nation's deadliest antisemitic attack. The jury agreed with prosecutors that Bowers — who spent six months planning the attack and has since expressed regret that he didn't kill more people — had formed the requisite legal intent to kill.
Bowers' defense claimed that his ability to form intent was impaired by mental illness and a delusional belief that he could stop the genocide of white people by killing Jews.
Testimony is now expected to shift to the impact of Bowers' crimes on survivors and the victims' loved ones.
Bowers was found guilty last month on all 63 federal charges brought against him.
In his opening statement before the verdict, prosecutor Troy Rivetti said the government was prepared to rebut any mental health defense.
Bowers clearly intended to kill everyone he could find in the synagogue on October 27, 2018, Rivetti said, according to AP. He called the magnitude of Bowers' crimes staggering.
“He came to kill,” Rivetti said. “The defendant entered the Tree of Life Synagogue, a sacred place to gather and pray, and he murdered 11 innocent worshippers.”