Monday, September 25, 2023

West Virginia man who threatened jurors in synagogue massacre trial enters guilty plea

A West Virginia man pleaded guilty to obstructing the federal hate crime trial of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter after sending threatening messages to jurors and witnesses in the case, reported The Hill. 

Hardy Lloyd, 45, admitted to relaying hostile social media posts, comments and emails throughout the trial of Robert Bowers, who in 2018 killed 11 congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Bowers was convicted on 63 counts; a jury recommended a death sentence in August. 

A self-identified “reverend” of a white supremacy, Lloyd previously described Bowers as a “lone wolf hero” and criticized jurors who convicted him as “guilty of anti-White racism,” according to the Justice Department.

“Free Robert Bowers Now!! … We need to support anyone who kills jews,” he posted on one Russian social media site, according to prosecutors. 

Lloyd’s white supremacist organization’s website also contained an “enemies page,” which lists those individuals’ home addresses, workplaces, family photos and contact information. He threatened to post online the jurors’ information — which was sealed during the trial — to “keep the trial honest,” according to court filings.

“Y’all who are on the jury, make sure to vote what you know in your heart is morally correct,” he wrote online with two winking-face emoticon. “Free Richard Bowers, city of Pittsburgh or else there will be ‘legal’ consiquences (sic)!”

As part of his plea agreement, Lloyd stipulated that he intentionally picked jurors and government witnesses as targets “due to the actual or perceived Jewish religion of the witnesses and the Bowers victims,” the Justice Department said in a statement. 

“Hardy Lloyd attempted to obstruct the federal hate crimes trial of the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “His guilty plea underscores that anyone who attempts to obstruct a federal trial by threatening or intimidating jurors or witnesses will be met with the full force of the Justice Department.” 

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the agency “will not tolerate the intimidation of citizens participating in our criminal justice system.” 

If a judge accepts Lloyd’s plea deal, he will spend 78 months — about six-and-a-half years — in prison, according to the Justice Department. 

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