Jury selection in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre death penalty trial will conclude next week with testimony expected to begin after Memorial Day.
Following more than three weeks of selection, U.S. District Judge Robert Colville has closed individual juror questioning and set the final day of selection for May 25, when both sides will use their peremptory strikes to arrive at a jury of 12 plus six alternates. A peremptory strike means lawyers can eliminate a juror for any reason.
Testimony is expected to start on May 30.
The parties started questioning prospective jurors on April 24, mostly on their death penalty views, to arrive at a pool of 69 from which the final panel will be selected on May 25.
The court is in recess until then.
Robert Bowers, 50, is accused of gunning down 11 worshippers from three congregations at the Tree of Life synagogue building in Squirrel Hill on Oct. 27, 2018, because of his hatred of Jews.
The Justice Department is seeking to execute him at the federal death chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Bowers’ team of lawyers is seeking life in prison.
He is the fourth defendant in the history of the Western District of Pennsylvania to face the federal death penalty.
None were executed. Juries spared two of them — Joseph Minerd of Connellsville and Jelani Solomon of Beaver Falls — and the other, Lawrence Skiba of White Oak, pleaded guilty and cooperated against a Chicago hitman.
This story is part of ongoing coverage of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial by the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle and the Pittsburgh Union Progress in a collaboration supported by funding from the Pittsburgh Media Partnership.