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Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting trial begins

Adam Beam SUTV News

It was an emotional day in court as testimonies get underway in the trial of Robert Bowers, who killed 11 people in the 2018 Tree of Life shooting.

On October 27, 2018, Bowers opened fire on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On that day Tree of Life, Dor Hadash and New Light, congregated for Shabbat services. Bowers, armed with handguns and an AR-15 rifle shot into the building from a shot out window. At the end of the shooting 11 people were killed and 6 were wounded. Bowers himself was shot multiple times before surrendering to police. It is the deadliest antisemitic attack since the Holocaust.

It should also be noted that weeks leading up to Bowers' attack, he had posted several times online attacking Jewish people and Hebrew immigrants.

Nearly four years later, the trial will now determine whether or not Bowers gets the death penalty for the 63 counts against him. However, President Joe Biden has pushed to bring an end to the federal death penalty on the campaign trail in 2020. Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro has also called for an end to the death penalty as well.

On the first day of Bowers' trial, the prosecution and defense painted two different pictures of the shooter. The prosecution depicted Bowers as acting with no remorse and committing his actions out of pure hate. All the while, the defense believe that Bowers may not have been in a right mental state on October, 27. "There is no making sense of this senseless act. Mr. Bowers caused extraordinary harm to many, many people," said defense attorney Judy Clarke.

After opening statements, a 911 call by Bernice Simon was played for the court by the prosecution. When she called her husband, Sylvon Simon, had been shot. During the call Bowers shot Bernice as well. Neither survived.

The trial of Robert Bowers is expected to last until early July.

*This story is ongoing and will be updated as more details are released*

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