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Accused Pittsburgh synagogue gunman pleads not guilty to 44 federal counts

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The man charged in the shooting attack that killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue pleaded not guilty to 44 charges at his arraignment Thursday.

The federal indictment charges Robert Bowers with 22 varying counts of obstruction of religion and 22 similar counts of use of a firearm.

Bowers walked into the courtroom Thursday, unlike an earlier hearing this week when he used a wheelchair. KDKA-TV reported that Bowers pleaded not guilty to each charge read by prosecutors.

U.S. Magistrate Robert Mitchell granted Bowers' request for a jury trial, assigning it to District Judge Donetta Ambrose. Mitchell said pretrial motions can be filed over the next 45 days.

"Today begins the process of seeking justice for the victims of these hateful acts, and healing for the victims' families, the Jewish community, and our city," U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said in a statement Wednesday.

"Our office will spare no resource, and will work with professionalism, integrity and diligence, in a way that honors the memories of the victims. This is what the public expects from the U.S. Department of Justice. And truly we, as Pittsburghers, can do no other. It is time to go to work."

Bowers also faces 36 state charges stemming from the attack last weekend at the Tree of Life synagogue. He has yet to be arraigned on those charges.

Allegheny County prosecutors told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette it's putting its case against Bowers on hold until the federal charges have played out.

"Ideally, as with these previous prosecutions, the residents of our county would be the ones to sit in judgment of the individual charged with these crimes and should be given the opportunity to determine guilt and subsequent punishment," District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said in a statement.

"In my experience, I believe this is clearly a capital case."

Bowers is being held in the Butler County Jail without bond.
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