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Judge: Tree Of Life Shooting Trial Date Won't Conflict With Jewish High Holidays

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - In a Thursday afternoon status conference pre-trial meeting for the accused Tree of Life synagogue shooter Robert Bowers, Judge Donetta Ambrose declined to set a trial date for his capital trial.

Judge Ambrose said she will only consider selecting a date after all of the lawyers' motions are resolved.

She says she'll also make sure jury selection and the trial won't take place during the Jewish High Holy Days in response to a letter the Dor Hadash congregation sent.

Robert Bowers is the shooter accused of killing 11 people in Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue last October. He waived his right to appear at Thursday's meeting.

The defense recently filed two additional items, including a status report regarding physical evidence review and a motion to compel the production of "filter team" protocol and procedures and "unfiltered records."

The prosecution told the judge that it just turned over the final lab reports from Quantico, Virginia.

However, the defense argued that they were told they'd received the final report during the Sept. 4 status conference pre-trial meeting, but have since received five discovery dumps of information.

The defense asked the judge for the court to rule on what evidence the defense team can see pertaining to the case. The judge asked the defense to file a motion outlining more details about the 70 plus pieces of evidence they claim to have not received by Nov. 7. The prosecution will respond by Nov. 14.

Specifically, the defense needs to rule on the physical evidence and what they can get to see and in what format they can see it.

Regarding scheduling, the judge said she respects the government's desire for a speedy resolution, but said she did not find the prosecution's proposed schedule "workable" for many reasons.

She also referred to a letter she received from Dor Hadash, politely requesting for the trial to not conflict with the Jewish High Holidays.

For that reason, the judge rejected the prosecution's suggested schedule and said she will eventually select a date that will not conflict, in any way, with the Jewish High Holidays.

Considering many motions issues are still up in the air with no resolution in sight, she declined to select any dates other than motion deadlines.

Judge Ambrose also said, "This is probably my most important case, but this is not my only case."

By Dec. 18, the judge requested for the defense to submit discovery motions, jury selection motions and any constitutional challenges to the federal death penalty act.

The government will have one month to respond by Jan. 17, 2020.

Judge Ambrose ended by saying, "I do not want to move a trial date" and for that reason said she will not set "some artificial date that night be moved because of other motions."

The prosecution argued that Spring 2021 is an "unreasonable delay," and painful for the victims who would like to see a "pathway to resolution."

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