Want to inform investors similar to Stephen Cohen about your company?
Submit your Analyst Briefing to get in front of investors, customers, and partners on CB Insights’ platform.
Latest Stephen Cohen News
Aug 2, 2023
A federal jury on Wednesday condemned to death the gunman who killed 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018, in what is considered the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history. The jury’s decision, which is binding on the judge, was announced Wednesday in the same federal courtroom where the jurors in June convicted the gunman, Robert Bowers, 50, of carrying out the massacre during sabbath services nearly five years ago. The judge will formally impose the sentence at a hearing on Thursday morning, when families of some victims are expected to address the court. In a statement, the family of two victims — Rose Mallinger, a 97-year-old member of the Tree of Life congregation who was killed in the attack, and Andrea Wedner, her daughter, who was wounded — thanked the jury. “Although we will never attain closure from the loss of our beloved Rose Mallinger, we now feel a measure of justice has been served,” the statement read. Jurors deliberated for just under 10 hours before reaching the verdict. Here are the details: The jurors agreed with many items on the defense’s list of mitigating factors, such as that he had a troubled childhood and that he had tried to kill himself as a teenager. But they disagreed with key assertions: None of the 12 jurors agreed with the defense’s contention that Mr. Bowers had schizophrenia, and none agreed with the claim that he had carried out the shooting “under mental or emotional disturbance.” Mr. Bowers, who had posted on social media about preserving the white race, stormed the Tree of Life synagogue armed with an AR-15 rifle and three handguns. He was found guilty of 63 federal counts, including hate crimes that resulted in death. Read about the verdict . Members of three congregations were killed in the attack. The victims were Joyce Fienberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 87; Irving Younger, 69; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; the couple Bernice Simon, 84, and Sylvan Simon, 86; and the brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54. Read about them . Mr. Bowers did not contest his guilt during the trial, but his lawyers argued that because of his long history of psychiatric problems and chaotic childhood, he should be spared the death penalty for the shooting, which also wounded six people. Jurors deliberated for just under 10 hours over two days before making their decision. Experts who testified for the government said that Mr. Bowers’s bigoted views were not products of his own delusions, because they were shared by thousands of people on right-wing social media. Arguing for the death penalty, prosecutors detailed the planning that he put into the attack and highlighted remarks he made years afterward that said his only regret was that he had not killed more Jewish people. There was no consensus among the congregants and victims’ family members about whether the government should seek the death penalty for Mr. Bowers. Some argued that taking the case to trial would subject people to unnecessary trauma, while others said they wanted to testify about the pain that he had caused. Show more Aug. 2, 2023, 3:52 p.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh Several members of the congregations and relatives of the victims said that the trial had helped to fill gaps in their understanding of the terrorist attack. “We, too, didn’t know a lot of the details that the prosecution knew,” said Amy Mallinger, whose grandmother was killed in the shooting. “A lot of this we learned for the first time, sitting there. It was raw, it was real, and it’s hard to do.” Aug. 2, 2023, 3:50 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 3:50 p.m. ET Anna Betts Another survivor, Martin Gaynor, said the trial was important “for enforcing the law of the land” and for “sending a signal in the strongest possible terms that antisemitism and hate have no place in our hearts, no place in our communities, no place in our country, and will not be tolerated.” Aug. 2, 2023, 3:49 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 3:49 p.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh At a news conference given by survivors of the shooting, Rabbi Doris Dyen said she was relieved that the jury had decided to sentence the gunman to death but also sad that it was necessary. “There can be situations where someone forfeits the right to live in society because they didn’t respect life themselves,” she said. Aug. 2, 2023, 3:34 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 3:34 p.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh Audrey Glickman, who survived the shooting, said at a news conference that the trial had helped the victims’ friends and relatives learn more about what took place. “Had we not had this trial, the deeds of this criminal would’ve been glossed over in the annals of history,” she said. “We now know, almost, the full story.” Aug. 2, 2023, 3:25 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 3:25 p.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who heads the Tree of Life congregation, said at a news conference that he is heartened to know that the government has protected Jewish people’s rights to practice their religion. “No one will ever take that right away from us,” he said. Image Aug. 2, 2023, 3:24 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh Rabbi Jon Perlman of the New Light congregation, who was leading services on the morning of the attack and lost three members of his congregation, said in an op-ed published on Wednesday that he did not believe executing Bowers “would bring either justice or peace.” Writing in The Forward, a Jewish newspaper, the rabbi said: “Revenge will not bring our slain loved ones back to life. And seeking it may even hurt ourselves and extend our sadness.” Aug. 2, 2023, 2:51 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 2:51 p.m. ET Image District Attorney Stephen Zappala of Allegheny County filed 36 state criminal charges against the gunman, including 11 counts of criminal homicide.Credit...Keith Srakocic/Associated Press In October 2018, soon after the attack on the synagogue, Robert Bowers was charged in state court with 36 crimes, including 11 counts of criminal homicide, which in Pennsylvania is the general charge for “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently” killing someone. But those state charges, which included counts that are eligible for the death penalty, have been on hold while the federal case moved forward. In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the district attorney’s office for Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, said that prosecutors were planning to meet with the families of victims before announcing whether the office would go ahead with the state charges, now that a federal jury has convicted Mr. Bowers and called for him to be sentenced to death. “We respect the verdict in the federal proceedings and commend all who were involved in the process,” the statement said. “We are, however, very mindful of the emotional strain that the families of all the victims have been under. It would be inappropriate for us to comment on our charges until we have had a chance to meet with the families.” Pennsylvania has not executed anyone since 1999. Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, has called for the abolition of the death penalty and has said he would not sign any death warrants while in office. Show more Image Jean Clickner, a congregant from the Tree of Life synagogue, said she was against the death penalty in general but did not fault jurors for unanimously recommending that the gunman be sentenced to death.Credit...Justin Merriman for The New York Times After a jury determined on Wednesday that Robert Bowers, the gunman who killed 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, should face the death penalty, loud sobbing could be heard in a hallway of the courthouse and several relatives of victims of the shooting could be seen crying as they walked out of the courtroom. Nor did relatives and friends of the victims or members of the wider Jewish community all react the same way when the jury delivered its verdict. Some expressed firm approval of the death sentence or acceptance that the jury had reached the right decision, while others were disappointed at the outcome. “This sentence is a testament to our justice system and a message to all that this type of heinous act will not be tolerated,” relatives of Rose Mallinger, a 97-year-old member of the Tree of Life congregation who was killed in the attack, and her daughter, Andrea Wedner, who was severely wounded, said in a statement. The family of Bernice and Sylvan Simon, a married couple in their 80s who were killed, expressed their “extreme gratitude” to the jurors and said “we fully respect their verdict and decisions.” Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Congregation, who had to hide in a bathroom to survive the attack, said in a statement that many members of the community had been “stuck in neutral” as the case moved through the courts. “Now that the trial is nearly over and the jury has recommended a death sentence,” he said, “it is my hope that we can begin to heal and move forward.” The co-presidents of the New Light congregation, which lost three members in the attack, issued a statement acknowledging the wrenching debate that had preceded the trial. “Many of our members prefer that the shooter spend the rest of his life in prison, questioning whether we should seek vengeance or revenge against him,” Stephen Cohen and Barbara Caplan wrote in the statement. Even so, the co-presidents wrote, they agreed with the government’s decision to pursue death. “We take this position not out of a desire to seek revenge or to ‘even the score,’ but because we believe that the shooter crossed a line,” they said. “Too often in the past — and not just the recent past — governments and religious authorities have looked away when murder and mayhem occurred against Jews.” Jean Clickner and her husband, Jon Pushinksy, who are members of the Dor Hadash congregation, one of three that was attacked inside the synagogue, kissed each other on Wednesday as they left the courthouse following the verdict. Ms. Clickner, a lawyer, said she was against the death penalty in general but did not fault jurors for unanimously voting to sentence Mr. Bowers to death. “It’s a very personal decision, so it is what it is, and I am glad to have this part over with,” she said. Some organizations praised the verdict. Michael Masters, the national director and chief executive of the Secure Community Network, which provides security training for American Jewish institutions, said that the sentence “sends a message to violent extremists, terrorists, and antisemites everywhere that the United States will not tolerate hate and violence against the Jewish people, nor any people of faith.” Others were critical. Abraham Bonowitz, the executive director of Death Penalty Action, which opposes capital punishment and has written about his opposition to the death penalty in the Pittsburgh case from a Jewish perspective, noted that appeals were likely to drag the case on for years, “reopening wounds repeatedly.” “Instead of fading to obscurity, this racist, antisemitic terrorist gains notoriety as a martyr for others who think like he does,” he said. Squirrel Hill Stands Against Gun Violence, a group founded by three members of Congregation Dor Hadash after the attack, said in a statement on Wednesday that blame for the attack lay not only with the gunman, but also with “those politicians and legislators who have fought against common-sense gun laws.” Jon Moss and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed reporting. Show more Aug. 2, 2023, 2:40 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh Eric Olshan, who was one of lead prosecutors and was recently confirmed as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, spoke briefly to reporters after the verdict. “Our Constitution protects a person’s right to hold repugnant beliefs," he said. "But our Constitution also protects every person’s right to practice his or her faith. And when people who espouse white supremacist, antisemitic and bigoted views pick up weapons and use them to kill or to try to kill people because of their faith, our office and our partners in law enforcement will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law.” Image Image The Tree of Life Synagogue, the site of what is considered the deadliest antisemitic attack in the nation’s history.Credit...Justin Merriman for The New York Times The Justice Department said it would seek the death penalty for Robert Bowers in August 2019, less than a year after the synagogue attack and a month after Attorney General Bill Barr announced that the federal government was resuming executions. The election in 2020 of Joe Biden, who had pledged to end the federal death penalty, prompted speculation that prosecutors would reverse the decision to seek death for Mr. Bowers. But despite offers from Mr. Bowers’s lawyers to have him plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence without possibility of release, the government stuck to its plan. Critics of that decision have noted that since Mr. Biden took office, the Justice Department has chosen not to pursue capital punishment for a number of other high-profile crimes, including the 2019 mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso that left 23 people dead and was prosecuted as a hate crime. The decision in the Pittsburgh case, prosecutors said in a motion in April, was based not only on the factors that make a crime eligible for the death penalty under the law — like the substantial planning that went into the attack, or the particular vulnerability of older adults and intellectually disabled victims — but also on other considerations. Prosecutors noted that Mr. Bowers had targeted congregants in a place of worship, and called his actions “a grievous affront to humanity.” In that sense, the case was similar to the racist killing of nine people in a Charleston church in 2015. Though there was disagreement among federal prosecutors about that case, Attorney General Loretta Lynch ultimately chose to seek the death penalty for the killer. He is now on death row. Mr. Bowers’s death sentence is the first in federal court under the Biden administration. Federal prosecutors sought a capital sentence for the Islamic extremist convicted of killing eight people with a truck in New York City, but the jury in that case did not recommend a death sentence, and the assailant was sentenced in March to life in prison . Show more A central question of the sentencing phase of the trial was whether Robert Bowers’s actions were motivated by sheer antisemitic hatred or had been driven by delusions and mental illness. Several defense experts found Mr. Bowers to have schizophrenia, and one forensic psychiatrist who had interviewed Mr. Bowers for nearly 40 hours testified at length about the defendant’s delusions of an apocalyptic race war that Satan was trying to bring about through Jewish people. Prosecutors disputed all of these findings. In assessing a list of 115 possible mitigating factors that the jury was asked to decide on one by one, the jurors appeared to agree that Mr. Bowers had a troubled childhood and some mental health challenges. But they rejected the claim that he had been acting out that apocalyptic delusion, and concluded unanimously that he did not have schizophrenia and had not “committed the offense under mental or emotional disturbance.” Show more Aug. 2, 2023, 1:18 p.m. ET Ruth Graham Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress and a donor to conservative causes and candidates, was among those praising the decision. “The jury’s decision is a stark reminder to remain vigilant about countering antisemitism, wherever it may hide,” he said in a statement. “I call on American leaders to amplify their efforts to protect Jewish communities across the country, so that such a tragedy never again takes place.” Aug. 2, 2023, 1:14 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 1:14 p.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh Jean Clickner and her husband, Jon Pushinksy, kissed as they exited the courthouse following the verdict. The couple are members of the Dor Hadash congregation, one of three that was attacked inside the Tree of Life synagogue. Clickner, a lawyer, said the trial had helped her come to terms with the attack. “You can process it when you have more information,” she said. Aug. 2, 2023, 1:18 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 1:18 p.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh Clickner also said that she was against the death penalty in general but did not fault jurors for unanimously voting to sentence Bowers to death. “It’s a very personal decision, so it is what it is, and I am glad to have this part over with,” she said. Aug. 2, 2023, 1:14 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 1:14 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh The co-presidents of the New Light congregation, which lost three members in the attack, acknowledged that many of their members preferred to see the gunman spend the rest of his life in prison rather than be put to death. Still, they said in a statement they agreed with the verdict. “We take this position not out of a desire to seek revenge or to “even the score” but because we believe that the shooter crossed a line,” wrote Stephen Cohen and Barbara Caplan. “Too often in the past – and not just the recent past – governments and religious authorities have looked away when murder and mayhem occurred against Jews.” Image Aug. 2, 2023, 1:00 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 1:00 p.m. ET Ruth Graham Abraham Bonowitz, the executive director of Death Penalty Action, which opposes capital punishment, said the death penalty for Bowers would only make him a model for other killers. “Instead of fading to obscurity, this racist, antisemitic terrorist gains notoriety as a martyr for others who think like he does,” Bonowitz said in a statement. Mr. Bonowitz also noted that the appeals process is likely to last for years, “reopening wounds repeatedly.” Aug. 2, 2023, 12:58 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:58 p.m. ET A memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.Credit...Justin Merriman for The New York Times The gunman who killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018 will join a small number of high-profile prisoners on federal death row. The vast majority of death sentences are imposed by state courts, with more than 2,000 people awaiting execution in state prisons across the country. Only 41 people — all men — face death for federal crimes, according to the Death Penalty Information Center . They include Dylann Roof , the white supremacist who killed nine Black people at a church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev , one of the Boston Marathon bombers. Judy Clarke , a lawyer who represented the Pittsburgh gunman, Robert Bowers, 50, also defended Mr. Tsarnaev. The 2013 attack on the marathon by Mr. Tsarnaev and his brother left three people dead and many more severely injured. Federal executions are rare, though they increased markedly under former President Donald J. Trump, whose administration carried out death sentences for 13 men over a period of about six months. Before that, only three death-row prisoners had been executed by the federal government since 1963, all under former President George W. Bush; one of them was Timothy McVeigh , who killed 168 people in 1995 when he blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City. Under President Biden, the Justice Department put a moratorium on carrying out executions but has continued to seek death sentences in some cases , including for Mr. Bowers. While campaigning for president, Mr. Biden pledged that he would work toward passing legislation “to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level,” but he has said little on the issue of executions since taking office. The Pittsburgh verdict is the first time that a federal jury has sentenced someone to death under the Biden administration. In March, a jury in Manhattan deadlocked over whether to impose the death penalty on Sayfullo Saipov , sparing his life. Mr. Saipov rammed a truck into bicyclists in New York in 2017, killing eight in an attack intended to further the goals of the Islamic State. His prosecution was the only other time that the Justice Department sought the death penalty under Mr. Biden. Show more Aug. 2, 2023, 12:56 p.m. ET Jon Moss Reporting from Pittsburgh Three of Mr. Bowers’s attorneys — Judy Clarke, Elisa Long and Michael J. Novara — exited the courthouse without commenting on the jury’s verdict. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:49 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:49 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh Squirrel Hill Stands Against Gun Violence, a group founded by three members of Congregation Dor Hadash after the attack to advocate for stricter gun laws, said in a statement that its members place their blame not only with the shooter but also “those politicians and legislators who have fought against common sense gun laws.” Aug. 2, 2023, 12:49 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:49 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh The Squirrel Hill group added that it intends to “hold responsible every legislator and politician who has uttered hateful white nationalist rhetoric or has shared memes or other social media content amplifying the ‘great replacement theory,’ the unfounded conspiracy theory that a flood of non-white immigrants, organized by Jews, are coming to replace the white race. And we hold responsible those who continue to vote for such political candidates.” Aug. 2, 2023, 12:43 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:43 p.m. ET Ruth Graham Some Jewish organizations are praising the verdict. “This sentence sends a message to violent extremists, terrorists, and antisemites everywhere that the United States will not tolerate hate and violence against the Jewish people, nor any people of faith,” said Michael Masters, the national director and chief executive of the Secure Community Network, which provides security training for American Jewish institutions. “This sentence is another step on the path to justice.” Aug. 2, 2023, 12:41 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:41 p.m. ET Image Nearly a year after the 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue, tributes to the victims lined the entrance of the building.Credit...Michelle Gustafson for The New York Times The jury's decision to impose the death sentence on Robert Bowers may have the air of finality, but if history is a guide it is only the beginning of a legal process that is likely to go on for years, if not decades. To start with, everyone sentenced to death in federal court is automatically granted an appeal. This appeal is limited to certain issues, but it can still lead to surprising outcomes, as when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed the death sentence of the man convicted of helping plan the bombing at the Boston Marathon. (The U.S. Supreme Court later reinstated the sentence.) If Mr. Bower’s initial appeal is unsuccessful, he can then challenge his conviction and sentence on broader, constitutional grounds. Even if that appeal is unsuccessful, capital defense lawyers often spend years pursuing other avenues of appeal for people on federal death row until all possibilities are exhausted. Because of the extensive litigation that follows a death sentence and because presidential administrations differ in their policies on carrying out executions, many people on federal death row, at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., have remained there for years, in some cases decades. Of the 79 people condemned to death since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, 16 have been executed, almost all of them during the last year of the Trump administration. Although the Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick B. Garland is still actively pursuing death sentences in some cases, including Mr. Bowers’s, it ordered a pause on executions in July 2021 to review the death penalty protocols put in place under the Trump administration. Show more Aug. 2, 2023, 12:34 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Congregation, who survived the attack hiding in a bathroom, also issued a statement thanking the jury. “In the years we have spent waiting for this trial to take place, many of us have been stuck in neutral,” he wrote. “It was a challenge to move forward with the looming specter of a murder trial. Now that the trial is nearly over and the jury has recommended a death sentence, it is my hope that we can begin to heal and move forward.” Aug. 2, 2023, 12:32 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:32 p.m. ET Jon Moss Reporting from Pittsburgh Several relatives of victims of the shooting were crying as they walked out of the courtroom following the jury’s sentence. Loud sobbing could be heard in a hallway of the courthouse. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:29 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:29 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh Family members of Rose Mallinger, a 97-year-old member of Tree of Life who was killed in the attack, and her daughter, Andrea Wedner, who was severely wounded, delivered a statement thanking the jury for its hard work. “Although we will never attain closure from the loss of our beloved Rose Mallinger, we now feel a measure of justice has been served,” the statement read. “This sentence is a testament to our justice system and a message to all that this type of heinous act will not be tolerated.” Aug. 2, 2023, 12:28 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:28 p.m. ET Ruth Graham Jewish communities across the country have been watching the case closely. At Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, a man took four hostages including the rabbi at a morning service in January 2022. The standoff ended after 11 hours, with all the hostages freed and the suspect dead. “I support the jury’s decision,” Anna Salton Eisen, the synagogue’s founder, said in a statement. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:24 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:24 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh As the judge thanked the jury for their service, he teared up, saying that he had given that speech many times before but never as sincerely as now. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:21 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:21 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh A sentencing hearing, at which the judge will impose the jury’s recommendation of death, is scheduled tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. in the same courtroom. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:21 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:21 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh After the judge read the final possible mitigating factor — that there were circumstances in Bowers’s life that suggest that life without the possibility of release rather than death could be an appropriate punishment — he paused. He said that the number of jurors agreeing was marked as zero, but that a ‘one’ had been scratched out. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:20 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:20 p.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh This is the first time, during the Biden administration, that federal prosecutors have sought and won a death sentence. They had tried in one previous case , that of a Sayfullo Saipov, man who killed eight people on a New York City bike path in an ISIS inspired attack. Several jurors voted against a death sentence, sparing Saipov's. The Justice Department has, however, put a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty, meaning it is unclear when Bowers will be executed, if ever. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:18 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:18 p.m. ET Ruth Graham Many of the families of the victims favored the death sentence. “We, as a persecuted people, understand when there is a time for compassion and when there is a time to stand up and say enough is enough — such violent hatred will not be tolerated on this earth,” the families of nine of the victims wrote in a letter published last year in The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle . Image Aug. 2, 2023, 12:15 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:15 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh As his death verdict was read out in the courtroom, Bowers continued to look at the papers one of his lawyer was reading, showing little reaction, then leaned over to whisper with another lawyer. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:14 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:14 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh A jury recommended that Robert Bowers be condemned to death for killing 11 worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:12 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:12 p.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh The judge is now about to read the verdict after reading through 115 potential mitigating factors and five potential aggravating factors. A reminder: All 12 jurors must agree on a death sentence in order for him to be executed. Otherwise, he will be sentenced to life in prison. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:11 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:11 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh A majority of jurors agreed that a sentence of life in prison without release is a “severe punishment.” The judge is nearly through with reading how the jury voted on the mitigating factors and will soon read their verdict on whether Bowers will be sentenced to death or life in prison. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:10 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:10 p.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh As the judge somberly goes through these 115 potential mitigating factors, the courtroom is paying close attention. Bowers’s lawyer, Judy Clarke, who has represented many clients facing a possible death penalty, appears to be marking down the jurors’ votes on the jury verdict form as the judge reads each one. We’re about to get to the verdict. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:10 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:10 p.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh None of the 12 jurors agreed with a central claim of the defense that the gunman “committed the offense under mental or emotional disturbance,” a major mitigating factor. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:05 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:05 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh No members of the jury agreed that Bowers had schizophrenia, one of the central debates of the penalty phase. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:03 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:03 p.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh A majority of jurors agreed that Bowers has a “multigenerational family history of mental illness and neurological problems.” Aug. 2, 2023, 12:02 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:02 p.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh A majority of jurors also agreed that Bowers had tried to kill himself at age 16 by ingesting a bottle of pills, but they disagreed with the defense’s contention that he had also tried to kill himself the following year. In that second instance, the prosecution had suggested that he had actually unintentionally burned himself. Aug. 2, 2023, 12:00 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 12:00 p.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh There was disagreement during the trial about how many times Bowers had attempted suicide. Most jurors disagreed that he was preoccupied with suicide at the age of 10, as the defense said. But all 12 jurors agreed that he was committed to multiple psychiatric institutions and had threatened to kill himself and his mother when he was 13. Aug. 2, 2023, 11:59 a.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 11:59 a.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh Among the other mitigating factors, the jurors agreed that Bowers's teachers, counselors and school psychologists noted his behavioral problems when he was a child and alerted his mother, though she did not do anything about them. Aug. 2, 2023, 11:56 a.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 11:56 a.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh All jurors agreed that Bowers’s father once knocked his mother down a flight of stairs when he was a child and that both of his parents had threatened to kill Bowers when he was a baby. These are among the 115 mitigating factors that the jurors had to go through. Aug. 2, 2023, 11:54 a.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 11:54 a.m. ET Campbell Robertson Reporting from Pittsburgh All the jurors disagreed that Bowers’s father, who died by suicide when he was 7 years old, had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, one of the mitigating factors they considered. Aug. 2, 2023, 11:53 a.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 11:53 a.m. ET Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs Reporting from Pittsburgh The judge will next go through the jury’s findings on a longer list of potential mitigating factors — 115 of them, in all — before reading the verdict. Aug. 2, 2023, 11:47 a.m. ET Aug. 2, 2023, 11:47 a.m. ET Image The pews were full at a Shabbat service at the Sixth & I synagogue in Washington in November 2018, held in memory of the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times Over the nearly five years since 11 people were murdered in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest antisemitic attack in the country’s history, the question of justice has loomed, unresolved. Soon, the jury in the federal trial will make a decision that is central to that question of justice: whether Robert Bowers, the man who carried out the attack, should be condemned to death. Most of the families of those who were killed have maintained that a death sentence would be the just outcome, even if it meant a longer and possibly more agonizing legal process. It is necessary, the families of nine victims said in a letter published last fall in The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle , to show that “such violent hatred will not be tolerated on this earth.” But others have strongly disagreed. Rabbi Jonathan Perlman of New Light, one of the three congregations that met in the Tree of Life synagogue, sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General, citing passages from the Talmud and urging the government not to pursue “this cruel form of justice.” Miri Rabinowitz, whose husband, Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, was killed in the shooting, wrote that seeking death would be a “bitter irony” given her husband’s devotion to “the sanctity of life.” Moreover, these and other letters argued, the trial and appeals process would only torment the survivors and draw attention to the killer. Jewish law and tradition do not offer a “single, unequivocal, straightforward answer” about capital punishment, said Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky, who analyzed the issue for the international assembly of Conservative Jewish rabbis. Talmudic jurisprudence is strongly averse to the death penalty, Rabbi Kalmanofsky said, but Jewish citizens should understand that this is ultimately a decision in the hands of a secular justice system. And while rabbinical tradition holds that the death penalty should be extremely rare, he said, it acknowledges “that sometimes there are incredibly exigent circumstances.” Show more Image Mourners in 2018 at a memorial for the 11 people killed in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.Credit...Hilary Swift for The New York Times Defense lawyers argued that the troubled past and psychiatric history of the gunman who killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018 should persuade jurors to spare his life. After weeks of testimony about the mental health of the gunman — he was involuntarily committed to psychiatric facilities three times, tried to kill himself more than once and, as a young boy, attempted to set his mother on fire — the jury determined in early July that he was eligible for a death sentence. But they still had to render a separate verdict on whether to impose it. Defense experts testified that they had diagnosed the gunman, Robert Bowers, 50, with schizophrenia and other serious mental disorders, saying that he had signs of “permanent brain damage” and that he suffered from paranoia and delusions. Experts called by the prosecution disputed the findings about schizophrenia and delusions, arguing that Mr. Bowers believed in racist ideas that are widespread. His defense team includes Judy Clarke, a lawyer with a long record of defending people accused of capital crimes , including the Unabomber, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, and the man who opened fire in an Arizona grocery store parking lot, killing six people and injuring 13, including former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. His lawyers repeatedly but unsuccessfully challenged the government’s intention to seek the death penalty. In a filing this year, the defense argued that under Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, the Justice Department had been arbitrary in deciding whether to pursue capital punishment. They cited hundreds of murder cases in which Mr. Garland had elected not to seek the death penalty, including the 2019 mass shooting by an anti-immigrant extremist in a Walmart in El Paso. The government rebutted these arguments by insisting that there were factors in this case, such as Mr. Bowers’s open antisemitism and his decision to attack during a worship service, “that make the death penalty specifically warranted here.” During the penalty phase of the trial, witnesses described how Mr. Bowers’s already fragile mental state started to spiral precipitously starting in 2014, when he lost his grandfather, his home and his one close friend in quick succession. One forensic psychiatrist, who examined Mr. Bowers for nearly 40 hours and diagnosed him with schizophrenia, said he had become obsessed with notions about Satan and an apocalyptic race war, a delusion that propelled his decision to attack the Pittsburgh synagogue. Show more Image Mourners gathered at the funeral of Joyce Fienberg, one of the 11 victims killed by a shooter at the Tree of Life synagogue in October 2018.Credit...Hilary Swift for The New York Times After five hours of deliberations over two days in June, the jury found the gunman, who had killed 11 worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018, guilty on all 63 counts , including 25 firearms-related offenses and 11 charges of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs. The courtroom was silent as U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Colville read the verdicts. Survivors of the attack and relatives of those who were killed locked hands. One woman, who had hidden in a closet as the gunman hunted worshipers in the synagogue, nodded each time the judge read out the verdict on a charge that involved her. There had been little doubt how this first phase of the trial would end. The gunman’s lawyers did not dispute that he had planned and carried out the massacre, which is considered to be the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history. During much of the witness testimony, defense lawyers sat quietly. They did not call a single witness of their own, and while they asked a few questions of some of the prosecution’s expert witnesses, they largely let the proceedings unfold on the government’s terms. The defense’s primary objective, as conveyed in court filings before the trial, was to avoid a death sentence. The Justice Department had rejected offers by defense lawyers to have the gunman plead guilty to all counts in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Members of the synagogue did not agree on whether the gunman should be sentenced to death. “It’s difficult to say, the emotions we feel right now,” Stephen Cohen, a president of the New Light congregation, said after the guilty verdict was announced. “Relief, obviously,” he added. “But there’s also a degree of trepidation.” Show more Image Police officers stood watch outside the United Synagogue of Hoboken, N.J., last November, hours after the F.B.I. issued a warning about a security risk at New Jersey synagogues. Credit...Ryan Kryska/Associated Press Last year, on the day after the fourth anniversary of the Tree of Life massacre, the synagogue’s leader, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, spoke of having watched a recent and steady stream of headlines about antisemitic rhetoric with sadness and horror. “When people don’t speak up, their silence is deafening,” said Rabbi Myers, who survived the attack on his synagogue. The gunman who carried out the attack later told police that he “ wanted all Jews to die .” “Speech is just the beginning,” Rabbi Myers said. “It moves from speech to action.” For Jews in America, it has been a perilous time . Those who monitor antisemitism say it is on the rise in America, with the number of reported incidents increasing . Last fall, the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned of a “broad threat” to synagogues in New Jersey . The agency soon located a man it said expressed “an extreme amount of hate against the Jewish community.” Last October, Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, posted on Twitter that he would “go death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE.” In Los Angeles , a group of emboldened antisemites hung a “Kanye is right about the Jews” banner over an interstate, and similar words were projected in an electronic message at a football stadium in Jacksonville, Fla . Steve Rosenberg, a former executive at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, said he had been put “over the edge” by an incident in which Kyrie Irving, a professional basketball player who at the time was a guard for the Brooklyn Nets, defended his support of an antisemitic documentary . A thread of antisemitism connects many of the nation’s recent spasms of political violence: the “ Jews will not replace us ” chants during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017; the “ Camp Auschwitz ” sweatshirt worn to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol; the Holocaust denial in blog posts that appear to have been written by the man accused of breaking into the residence of the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week and attacking her husband with a hammer. Other tragedies loom in recent memory for many, including the 2019 killing of a woman at a California synagogue by a gunman shouting about how Jews were ruining the world , and last year’s hostage-taking at a Texas synagogue by a man complaining about Jewish power . Show more
Stephen Cohen Investments
Stephen Cohen has made 1 investments. Their latest investment was in Geenee as part of their Series A on December 12, 2015.