Closings arguments were set to get underway Thursday in the federal trial of a truck driver who killed 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the nation's deadliest attack on Jews.
Robert Bowers is charged with 63 criminal counts, including hate crimes resulting in death and obstruction of the free exercise of religion resulting in death. Some of the charges carry a potential death sentence.
Bowers' attorneys did not call any witnesses or present any evidence after conceding at the trial's outset that he attacked and killed worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018. Seven people were injured in the attack, including five responding police officers.
Prosecutors say the 50-year-old was motivated by his hatred of Jewish people. Over 11 days of testimony, jurors learned that Bowers had extensively posted, shared or liked antisemitic and white supremacist content on Gab, a social media platform popular with the far right.
The defense has sought to raise questions about motive, suggesting to jurors that his rampage was not spurred by antisemitism but his delusional belief that Jews were committing genocide by helping refugees settle in the United States.
The jury could begin deliberating as early as Thursday afternoon.
Assuming the jury returns a conviction, the trial would enter what’s expected to be a lengthy penalty phase, with the same jurors deciding Bowers’ sentence: life in prison or the death penalty. Bowers’ attorneys have focused their efforts on trying to save his life.