Lawyers for synagogue massacre suspect allege FBI meddling


Lawyers for the man accused of killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue say the FBI has been discouraging witnesses from talking to the defense, undermining the suspect’s right to a fair trial.

Robert Bowers’ lawyers said in court documents that at least one witness got in touch with the defense — exchanging multiple emails over several weeks — but abruptly canceled a planned meeting after the FBI frowned on it.

The defense said the FBI delivered the same message to other witnesses.

“The FBI may have included some … acknowledgment of the witnesses’ right to talk to the defense, while at the same time ensuring that no witness would actually exercise that right by conveying the misleading message that doing so could compromise the government’s case,” Bowers’ lawyers wrote.

The defense asked a judge to tell the FBI to stop its “improper interference” in the case. Defense lawyers are also demanding that the government turn over any documents that concern witnesses’ potential communication with the defense, and a list of witnesses with whom the FBI has spoken about talking to Bowers’ lawyers.

SCOTUS Announces Date For Big Rulings, Could Democrat Efforts to Remove Trump Be Put to an End?

“It is well-established that witnesses belong neither to the defense nor to the prosecution and that both parties must have equal access to witnesses before trial,” defense lawyers wrote.

U.S. Senior District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose on Thursday ordered federal prosecutors to respond to the defense allegation by next week. The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.

Bowers opened fire with an AR-15 rifle and other weapons during worship services inside Tree of Life synagogue, killing eight men and three women before a tactical police team tracked him down and shot him, according to state and federal affidavits.

He expressed hatred of Jews during the Oct. 27 rampage and later told police that “all these Jews need to die,” authorities said. It was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

Bowers, who faces a 63-count indictment that charges him with hate crimes, obstructing religious belief and using a firearm during crimes of violence, has pleaded not guilty.

The defense filing did not name the witnesses whom the FBI allegedly instructed not to speak with Bowers’ lawyers. The defense plans to file a separate document under seal that will provide more specifics about the allegation.

Bowers’ lawyers identified “potential victim impact witnesses” as being among the witnesses whom the FBI might have discouraged from talking to the defense. They noted that Department of Justice protocol is to seek the views of the victims’ family on a potential death penalty prosecution. Prosecutors have not made a final decision on whether to seek capital punishment.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands. Photo credit: @AP on Twitter
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
New York City