Tree Of Life Congregants Respond To Death Penalty Decision

Lynne Hayes-Freeland
August 27, 2019 - 1:45 pm
A federal judge is giving prosecution and defense lawyers in the Tree of Life shooting case another 120 days to share and review evidence.

Newark Advocate-USA Today Network

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Related: Report: DOJ To Seek Death Penalty For Tree Of Life Shooter

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) — Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing 11 people and injuring six at Tree of Life Synagogue last October.

The Justice Department announced the decision Monday, after Attorney General William Barr recently said it would resume executions for the first time since 2003. 

Members from two of the Squirrel Hill synagogue's congregations have asked prosecutors to accept a plea deal guaranteeing life without parole.

Stephen Cohen, a member of New Light Congregation, wrote his own letter to Barr. He says the victims want closure, not a trial and the subsequent appeals that come with a death sentence.

“It will go on for years,” Cohen told Lynne Hayes-Freeland on KDKA Radio. “Every time there is a new development all the pain, all the issues, everything comes right back to the surface.”

He says a trial will bring more pain and trauma.

“The folks who were in the building — the hostages, the survivors — they’re going to have to get up on the stand and testify, reliving every moment of that day.”

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Jennifer Bloodworth contributed to this story.

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