Feds to seek death penalty for Charleston shooter

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Federal prosecutors on Tuesday announced they will seek the death penalty against the alleged gunman behind last year’s mass shooting at a historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C.

Authorities revealed that suspect Dylann Storm Roof, 22, could face that punishment during a conference call with victims and their families, according to The Post and Courier.

{mosads}“The families will support this decision,” said Steve Schmutz, a Charleston attorney who represents family members of three of the victims. “Really, I think the families have mixed emotions about the death penalty. But if it’s ever going to be given, this case certainly calls for it.”

Roof is accused of killing nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015. He allegedly uttered racial epithets before opening fire on the predominantly African-American congregation there.

The incident prompted a national debate over the use of Confederate imagery after photos surfaced of Roof posing with the Confederate battle flag.

State prosecutors announced last September they would seek the death penalty for Roof, who faces 13 criminal charges at that level.

Roof was charged with nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and a firearms charge following last summer’s bloodshed.

A jury must find a defendant guilty of an aggravated criminal offense before recommending the death penalty in South Carolina.

A court document filed by the state prosecutor in September alleges that Roof created a risk of death for more than one person in a public place, which under state law makes him eligible for the death penalty.

The Post and Courier on Tuesday reported that Roof’s state trial is scheduled for January, while the federal trail remains pending.

Roof was indicted on 33 federal charges last year, ultimately pleading not guilty to all counts during a hearing late last July.

He was charged with 12 counts under hate crime laws, another 12 under civil rights freedoms protecting freedom of religion and nine for using a firearm for murder.

The Post and Courier said that Roof’s federal trial has been delayed four times while Attorney General Loretta Lynch considered his case.

Tags Charleston Charleston church shooting Crime death penalty Dylann Roof Dylann Storm Roof Guns Mass shootings South Carolina

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