Justice Department to seek death penalty against Tree of Life shooting suspect

Butler Co. Prison(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department has filed its intent to seek the death penalty for Robert Bowers, who is accused of killing 11 people in the Tree of Life synagogue shooting last October.

In a filing on Monday in the U.S. District Court of Western Pennsylvania, federal prosecutors provided a list of factors supporting their decision, noting that Bowers "expressed hatred and contempt toward members of the Jewish faith and his animus toward members of the Jewish faith played a role in the killings."

Bowers has pleaded not guilty to the more than 50 criminal charges filed against him in the shooting, which includes federal hate crimes charges.

"Bowers targeted men and women participating in Jewish religious worship at the Tree of Life Synagogue, located in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is home to one of the largest and oldest urban Jewish populations in the United States, in order to maximize the devastation, amplify the harm of his crimes and instill fear within the local, national, and international Jewish communities," prosecutors said in the Monday filing.

Following the El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, shootings earlier this month, Attorney General William Barr announced that the Justice Department would be recommending legislation to Congress that would speed up death penalty proceedings in cases involving mass shooters.

"There will be a strict timetable for judicial proceedings that will allow the imposition of the death sentence without undue delay," Barr said in remarks to a law enforcement conference. "Punishment must be swift."

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