In the first phase of the federal investigation, Mr. Bowers’ defense team presented no witnesses and never disputed the essential facts of the attack: On October 27, 2018, he went to a synagogue where three congregations were meeting for services. – Tree of Life, New Light and Tor Hadash – and walked through the building shooting worshippers.
Killed were Joyce Feinberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 87; Irving Younger, 69; Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; couple Bernice, 84, and Sylvan Simon, 86; and brothers Cecil, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54.
Six other people, including four police officers, were injured.
Mr. Bowers was found guilty of 63 charges, including hate crimes that carry the maximum penalty of death. The central question facing jurors over the past two and a half weeks is whether Mr. Whether Bowers intended to kill his victims is one of the factors required for a death sentence. Mr. Bowers’ attorneys called psychologists and neuroscientists to testify in an effort to build a case that severe mental illness made him unable to form a conscious intent to kill.
“The problem with this is, what happens if your brain breaks?” Michael Burt, a defense attorney, said in his closing argument. “What happens when you don’t have the ability to know what’s true and what’s not?”
Mr. Defense witnesses who examined Bowers said he suffered from schizophrenia and other serious mental disorders. They testified that he had symptoms of “permanent brain damage,” that he suffered from paranoia and delusions, and that his claim to be the savior of the white race was so divorced from reality that it made him appear “blatantly psychopathic.”