Lawyers of Pittsburgh shooter argue against death penalty

Lawyers for Robert Bowers claim his potential death sentence is unconstitutional.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Scene of Pittsburgh shooting
Scene of Pittsburgh shooting
Alexi Rosenfeld

Lawyers for Robert Bowers, the suspect in the synagogue shooting that killed 11 people in Pittsburgh, have challenged his potential death sentence as unconstitutional, The Associated Press reported Saturday.

The lawyers argued in court papers filed this week that capital punishment violates the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause and the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, according to the report.

They also said the practice of carrying out federal executions in state prisons violates a Tenth Amendment protection that says states can’t be made to enforce federal laws, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Friday.

Defense lawyer Judy Clarke has made similar arguments in other high-profile capital cases. Her clients have included Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tasarnaev, who is appealing his 2015 death sentence, and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, who entered a plea agreement that spared him the death penalty, noted AP.

In court filings, Clarke said that she has tried to negotiate a life sentence for Bowers but that prosecutors have rebuffed her.

Bowers is charged with killing 11 congregants during a Shabbat service at the Tree of Life synagogue on October 27, 2018, and injuring six others, including four police officers.

The shooter was armed with an AR-15 and three handguns and allegedly yelled “I want to kill all Jews” during the attack.

He was initially indicted on 44 counts. In January, 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.

The rabbi of one of the three congregations that share the Tree of Life synagogue building this past summer urged US Attorney General William Barr not to seek the death penalty for Bowers.



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