Appearing in court for the second time this week, Robert Bowers pleaded not guilty to 44 counts against him. He’s accused of killing 11 worshippers at the weekend.
Robert Bowers, the man charged withopening fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue and killing 11 worshiperspleaded not guilty on Thursday in federal court to all 44 counts against him. The counts include hate crimes as well as firearms offenses.
Bowers, an avowed anti-Semite, appeared defiant in court.
He spoke little, and only said that he understood the charges against him, and that some of them could result in the death penalty. He followed by entering a plea of “not guilty.”
The grand jury voted to indict Bowers on 44 counts, according to a filing in federal court in Pittsburgh. They include 11 counts of “obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death” (a federal charge akin to murder that can carry the death penalty), and various charges related to his use of a gun in an act of anti-religious violence.
Bowers was injured during a shootout with police after he opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood on Saturday. It is believed to be the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history.
More funerals after Trump’s contentious visit
Three more victims’ funerals were expected later in the day in Pittsburgh — for Sylvan Simon, 86, his wife, Bernice, 84, and for Richard Gottfried, 65.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump made a politically tricky visit to Pittsburgh, accompanied by his wife Melania, Orthodox Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka. Their arrival coincided with the first victims’ funerals.
Opponents and noisy groups of local protesters said, however, that he shouldn’t even have gone to Pittsburgh.
Starkly illustrating the controversy, there wasn’t anyone available, beyond the local air force base commander and his wife, to meet the president on arrival from Washington.