Accused Church Killer Presses Prosecution

(CN) – Attorneys for Dylann Storm Roof, the alleged murderer of nine in a Charleston, S.C., church in June, went on the offensive Monday filing a series of motions pressing the federal government to lay out its case against their client.
     Roof’s legal team for his upcoming federal trial, led by David Bruck of Washington and Lee School of Law, are seeking access to any statements their client may have made to authorities since his arrest, information on expert witnesses who may be called on to testify against Roof, records of any communications to and from their client that have been monitored by the government since his arrest, and an inventory and access to any physical evidence collected at the shooting scene inside the Emanuel A.M.E. church in downtown Charleston.
     On July 22, a federal grand jury indicted Roof on 33 federal charges, including nine murder charges and three attempted murder charges under the Shepard-Byrd Act, a federal hate crime law signed in 2009 that expanded hate crime motivations to include race, gender, or disability.
     Nine murder charges and three attempted murder charges were also filed under another federal law that makes attacking someone based on their religion a hate crime.
     Roof also faces trial in state court on nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and a gun possession charge. He faces trial on those charges next summer. No date has been set for his federal trial.
     Roof has so far entered no plea on the state charges, but last week pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.
     That plea was not without controversy, however, as Bruck and his colleagues, federal public defenders Michael O’Connell and William Nettles and Ann Walsh, said Roof wanted to plead guilty to the federal charges, but that they said they couldn’t advise him to do so until federal prosecutors announced whether they will seek the death penalty in the case.
     In addition to the motion for discovery, inspection and inventory, Roof’s attorney’s also filed a motion to compel the government to reveal if it intends to use evidence of other crimes their client may have committed in prosecuting its case against them.
     “In this regard, the Government should specify the particular crime, wrong, or act to be used and the particular theory upon which it is admissible,” the motion says.
     In a third motion, Roof asserted his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and also formally asserted his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
     “The defendant does not wish to be questioned in the absence of counsel pursuant to McNeil v. Wisconsin and Edwards v. Arizona,” the motion said.

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