CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Attorneys in the federal government’s case against a white man accused of gunning down nine black people at a Charleston church earlier this year meet with the judge hearing the case on Thursday.
Twenty-one-year-old Dylann Roof faces dozens of federal charges, including hate crimes, stemming from the June 17 shootings at Emanuel AME Church.
Federal prosecutors have not said if they’ll seek the death penalty, and Roof’s attorneys have said he would like to plead guilty.
It is not exactly clear what attorneys will discuss before U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel on Thursday. Usually such meetings deal with scheduling and evidence. Online records show three sealed orders have been issued. Jury selection is set for next month.
When Roof was arraigned in federal court on 33 charges in late July, defense attorney David Bruck said his client wanted to plead guilty but that he could not counsel him to do so without knowing the government’s intentions.
Roof faces additional counts in state court, including nine murder charges.
State prosecutor Scarlett Wilson announced last month that while not all the families of the nine people killed want her to seek the death penalty, the state will argue that Roof be put to death if he is convicted in a state trial set for next year.
Wilson called Roof’s actions “the ultimate crime that deserved the ultimate punishment.” She said she understands the desire of some victims’ families to forgive Roof, but said that doesn’t eliminate the consequences of Roof’s actions.
Gergel is also hearing a second case stemming from the church shootings: that of Roof’s friend, 21-year-old Joey Meek.
Meek has pleaded not guilty to lying to law enforcement agents and failing to report what he knew about Roof’s intentions.
According to an indictment, Meek knew Roof planned to shoot black church members during a Bible study, didn’t report it and lied to authorities. A hearing is set next week on Meek’s request to have his bond reduced.
(Photo Source: AP)