PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Federal prosecutors say the FBI is not discouraging witnesses from talking to the lawyers of Robert Bowers, the man accused in the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting.
Our news partners at the Post Gazette report that last month, Mr. Bowers’ defense team asked a federal judge to order the FBI to cease communications with witnesses.
Federal prosecutors say those demands by Mr. Bowers’ attorneys are an attempt to “expose sensitive, confidential victim communications to which they are not entitled to” according to the court filing.
The U.S attorney’s office also says the defense is attempting an “end-run” around legal limitations on criminal discovery issues in the case by requesting FBI reports, emails, and handwritten notes regarding potential communications with witnesses, reports the PG.
In the 17-page filing, prosecutors also said that the FBI has been “vigilant” in protecting victims’ rights. Under the law, the government cannot tell witnesses not to talk to the defense but can tell them they are under no obligation to do so.
Bowers is facing a 51-count federal indictment and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has not determined if the death penalty will be sought.
Prosecutors say he was the lone gunman in the Oct. 27 attack on the Squirrel Hill synagogue.
Eleven people were killed, seven injured including five police officers.