The anti-Semite accused of gunning down 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue pleaded not guilty in federal court Monday to a slew of additional counts — but his lawyer said she hopes the case will be resolved without a trial.
A grand jury on Jan. 29 hit Robert Bowers, 46, with 19 additional counts to the 44 he had faced in the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue building on Oct. 27, 2018.
The additional charges include hate crimes violations, obstruction of religious belief and the use of a firearm during crimes of violence.
Clad in a red jumpsuit with his ankles and wrists shackled, Bowers requested a trial by jury – but his court-appointed attorney Judy Clarke told the judge that she wants to resolve the case with a plea deal, according to the local CBS affiliate.
“We are hopeful of a resolution of this matter without a trial,” said Clarke, a noted death penalty lawyer whose clients have included one of the Boston Marathon bombers, a 9/11 conspirator and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.
Clarke noted that it was standard to plead “not guilty” at this stage of the proceedings.
Bowers, who had frequently posted anti-Semitic slurs and conspiracy theories online, was armed with three Glock .357-caliber handguns and a Colt AR-15 rifle when he stormed the house of worship, killing 11 congregants and injuring two others.
Five police officers also were injured as they raced to rescue the worshippers.
The former truck driver allegedly shouted about his desire to “kill Jews” before firing off the deadly shots.
In November, he pleaded not guilty to the 44 initial counts, including using a firearm to commit murder and obstruction of religious exercise resulting in death.
The carnage followed a series of politically motivated pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats and heightened national tensions ahead of November’s midterm congressional elections.
Bowers has been incarcerated in the Butler County Prison, about 35 miles from the shooting scene. If convicted of the most serious offenses, he could be sentenced to life without parole.
A spokeswoman for federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh said a decision about whether to pursue the death penalty remains under review.
Two members from the Dor Hadash congregation — which is part of the Tree of Life Synagogue – attended Monday’s hearing before US Magistrate Judge Robert Mitchell.
They said they wanted to stand strong and represent the congregation.
“We have to present, strong and not afraid and make ourselves be know,” one of them said, according to the CBS station.
With Post wires