Psychiatrist says Bowers has schizophrenia, federal prison consultants testify

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.

On Wednesday, the judge denied a motion to exhume Randall Bowers’ 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.

Also in court on Wednesday, Pastor Jeff Dillinger testified that Bowers attended his church in Whitehall for about six months, and two prison guards who monitor Bowers at the Butler County Prison testified that he’s never had any seizures and doesn’t take medication.

Dr. George Corvin, a psychiatrist from Raleigh, North Carolina, examined Robert Bowers on multiple occasions and diagnosed him with schizophrenia.

Corvin said Bowers’s family tree showed a significant history of mental illness, but he says Bowers won’t admit that he has issues.

“He knows other people think he’s mentally ill but he does not think he’s mentally ill and he does not want to be seen as mentally ill,” Corvin said.

Corvin testified that Bowers is a smart guy who knows a lot of stuff....but has a delusional fixation. For instance, he says Bowers believes salt packets at the Butler County Prison are improving his abilities, and at one point Bowers thought a ghost was breaking a light bulb at his apartment every Sunday night.

Two retired federal prison managers, who now both work as consultants, testified that if sentenced to life in prison, Bowers would likely be sent to the super maximum-security facility outside Denver, Colorado, for safety reasons. It’s the highest-level security prison in the federal system.

“I believe, given that his crime is a hate crime, he may become the target of other inmates. Inmates would not take so kindly to seeing him in general population,” said Janet Perdue.

They both agreed that this facility would be the only one that could keep him safe.

They testified he would be in a cell by himself for nearly 23 hours out of the day, but the defense attempted to paint a different picture of life behind bars at the supermax, pointing out that he would have his own shower, and TV with 60 channels, and access to arts and crafts, bingo, trivia contests with prizes like protein bars.

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