Robert Bowers: Trial date set for accused Tree of Life gunman
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The alleged shooter in the Tree of Life Synagogue mass shooting now has a trial date.
Robert Bowers is accused of shooting and killing 11 people in 2018 who were a part of three different congregations: New Light, Dor Hadash and Tree of Life.
The trial is set for April 24, 2023. For the victims, it has been a long wait to get to this day.
Steve Cohen, co-president of New Light Congregation, said he is constantly reminded of one of the darkest days in Pittsburgh history.
"Justice should be quick and swift," Cohen said.
The victims have faced several delays for more than three years, but a federal judge said no more waiting. For the Jewish community, this offers a chance at closure and healing.
"There will never be full closure. This will stick with everyone for the rest of their lives," Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh CEO Jeff Finkelstein said.
He's relieved the trial is coming, but he is worried about the pain people will have to revisit.
"I know that during the trial, the evidence that's going to come out is going to tear open wounds that people have been trying to heal," Finkelstein said.
"For every single person who has to testify in that trial, it will be a hugely traumatic event," Cohen said.
As they wait for their day in court, the community is working together to prepare for those tough days. Organizations like the 10.27 Healing Partnership, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh will be there to help.
"We're going to be there for everyone and help support them through it," Finkelstein said.
The 11 lives lost can never be replaced, but there is hope for justice. Bowers' defense team had hoped to delay the case to December 2023.
Cohen said the spring trial should not interfere with any commemoration or the high holidays next year. He added to this point, Bowers has never asked for forgiveness for his alleged actions.
"It's the job of the aggriever, the person who made the wrong to ask forgiveness," Cohen said.
While this trial is the closing of this chapter of the story, the community still continues to honor and remember those who died and those who made it out alive.
"That's the chapter that needs to be written next. That's the chapter we're working on right now. That's the chapter when closed will end the book," Cohen said.
Bowers faces the death penalty if convicted, so there could be further appeals depending on how this case goes.
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