By Sabrina Souza, CNN
(CNN) — The Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooter told a forensic psychologist who evaluated him that he had identified multiple targets to carry out the mass shooting of Jews, testimony at the killer’s death penalty trial revealed Thursday.
Under cross-examination by federal prosecutor Eric Olshan, defense witness Dr. Richard Rogers said convicted killer Robert Bowers shared that with him, which had not been known publicly.
Rogers explained Bowers told him during his evaluation, which took place over the course of four days in fall of 2022, around four years after the attack. Rogers said his two top targets were the Tree of Life synagogue and a Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill, but Bowers ultimately chose the Tree of Life because a police station was too close to the JCC.
Rogers in earlier testimony described the gunman’s schizophrenia and delusional thinking, calling Bowers “blatantly psychotic.” His testimony came after a neurologist who also examined Bowers testified Wednesday that he made several suicide attempts as a young man, was involuntarily committed multiple times and has schizophrenia and epilepsy.
The testimony comes as defense attorneys make the case to the federal jury that Bowers had significant mental health issues that should lead to a sentence of life in prison rather than the death penalty. The prosecution has countered by arguing the mass shooting showed extensive planning and a clear intent that, in his own words, “All Jews had to die.”
Bowers, 50, was found guilty on June 16 of all 63 charges against him for killing 11 worshippers and wounding six others at Tree of Life in October 2018.
Rogers testified Bowers told him that on the day of the attack he drove past Tree of Life and watched five people walk inside, according to the psychologist’s notes.
He then drove to the JCC, assessed it and determined he would go back to the synagogue because a police station stood between the two.
Olshan asked Rogers if Bowers had indicated to him that he was thinking of other dates to carry out the antisemitic attack. Rogers replied that Bowers told him he considered the weekend prior, but there would be children in the synagogue that weekend, and he felt it wouldn’t “bring more people to his cause” so he would lose potential supporters.
Olshan questioned Rogers about his notes and asked him if “worst attack in antisemitic history” was a paraphrase of what Bowers said. Rogers replied, “Yes,” and said it was a reference to what Bowers had accomplished, describing the crime, with a little bit of pride.
Rogers said Bowers also looked at other potential targets, including a Jewish individual in Cleveland and other “high level individuals” who were Jewish.
When questioned by Olshan, Rogers noted from his evaluation that Bowers thought about the methods in which he would carry out the killings.
A corrections officer from Butler County Prison, where Bowers is incarcerated, also took the stand Thursday as a witness for the prosecution.
Michael Williams testified that Bowers follows direction, and uses his tablets and television to watch the news and a show called “Ridiculousness.” He is also very specific about his shaving routine.
Under direct questioning from federal prosecutor Soo Song, Williams said Bowers watches coverage of himself and sometimes reacts to it. “I’ve seen him, like a small smirk you know, kind of maybe glad what happened,” Williams said.
Soo asked questions about Bowers’ health.
Williams said Bowers has never had a seizure in the five years under his supervision.
In response to that questioning, defense attorney Elisa Long asked Williams if he was aware of other signs of seizures besides body shakes and tongue biting. Williams replied, “No.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story had the wrong year for Dr. Richard Rogers’ evaluation of Robert Bowers. It was 2022.
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CNN’s Eric Levenson contributed to this report.