Pastor, prison guards testify during Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial

PITTSBURGH — The defense continues to present witnesses in the final phase of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial.

The jury has decided that Robert Bowers, who killed 11 worshippers in a Squirrel Hill synagogue in 2018, is eligible for the death penalty.

In the final phase of the trial, family members and survivors had the opportunity to speak for the first time about their loss and grief.

On Wednesday, it was decided that the body of Randall Bowers will remain undisturbed in a Shaler cemetery after the judge denied a motion to exhume his body for DNA testing.

Bowers’ attorneys on Tuesday asked the judge to exhume the body to prove he’s the biological father of Robert Bowers.

The defense has said Randall Bowers suffered from schizophrenia and mental illness runs in the family.

In denying the request, the Judge wrote, “Given the late filing and inevitable delay that will result from the relief, the court hereby denies the Motion as untimely.”

He also said the defense could have made the request earlier.

In court Wednesday, Pastor Jeff Dillinger testified that Bowers attended his Church of Christ in Whitehall for about six months until April of 2017 when he started driving a truck.

He said Bowers was quiet and socially awkward.

Dillinger testified he learned about the shooting from a church member who saw it on TV and recognized Bowers’ name.

Dillinger said he spoke to his congregation about Bowers the next morning during Sunday services.

“I asked them to be aware of what’s going on. We would have had a prayer for all of those involved,” he said.

Dillinger testified that he contacted the FBI and told them Bowers had been a member of his church.

Two prison guards who monitor Bowers at the Butler County Prison, including Captain Jeff Kengerski, testified that he’s been a model inmate with no disciplinary issues. He’s kept in isolation and they both testified that he’s never had any seizures and doesn’t take medication. And they said he doesn’t appear to suffer from mental illness.

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