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The man who gunned down 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, nearly five years ago is eligible for the death penalty, a federal jury announced Thursday.
The jury agreed with prosecutors who are seeking capital punishment for the shooter who targeted Jews after six months of planning and said he regretted not killing more people, the Associated Press reported. The shooting is considered by authorities to be the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.
The shooter, whom The Daily Wire will not name in accordance with company policy, was found guilty last month of all 63 counts he was facing, including 11 counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and 11 counts of hate crimes resulting in death.
After two hours of deliberations, the jurors’ verdict was read in front of survivors and the victims’ family members.
“It has been nearly five years since 11 people were taken from us. They were beloved and valued family members, friends and neighbors. They cannot speak for themselves, and so their family members will speak for them,” said Maggie Feinstein, the director of 10.27 Healing Partnership, a program dedicated to helping survivors of the shooting and those affected by the tragedy.
Attorneys representing the shooter asked for a life sentence if he pleaded guilty, but prosecutors, with the support of most of the victims’ families, refused and took the case to trial to pursue the death penalty. The shooter’s lawyers also argued that he was impaired by mental illness and a “delusional belief system took over his thinking,” dictating that he had to kill Jews to stop a genocide of white people, the AP reported.
The mass murderer killed 11 people from three Jewish congregations who gathered at the Tree of Life synagogue on October 27, 2018. Two other worshipers and five police officers were also wounded by the gunman who unloaded a Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and three Glock .357 handguns during his attack.
Jurors are now expected to hear the gruesome details of how the shooter inflicted pain and trauma on his Jewish victims before they decide if his crime will ultimately result in capital punishment. After hearing arguments from the prosecution and the defense, including possible pleas from the shooter’s family members, the jury must be in unanimous agreement for the death penalty to be carried out.
Leif Le Mahieu contributed to this report.