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Wednesday, July 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Fed Trial Delayed for |S.C. Church Shooter

(CN) - The trial of a white man accused of killing nine black people in a downtown Charleston, S.C. church this summer will be delayed until at least January, a federal judge ruled this morning.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said the trial of 21-year-old Dylann Roof was to have started next month, but is being pushed to next year in order to give both defense attorneys and prosecutors more time to prepare.

On Monday, Roof submitted an affidavit to the court, waiving his right to a speedy trial.

Federal prosecutors said Thursday after a brief hearing with Gergel that the government has yet to decide whether it will purse the death penalty in the case.

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 nine state murder charges, three attempted murder charges and a firearms charge. Unlike their federal counterparts, prosecutors in Charleston said they would seek the death penalty during their trial, for which a tentative trial date of July 11 has been set.

Roof is accused of killing eight worshipers and the pastor at the Emanuel AME Church on June 17, after spending an hour with the victims in a Bible study class.

The victims were the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41,who had campaigned vigorously as a state senator for police to wear body cameras after several police shootings of unarmed black men across the country; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Myra Thompson, 59.

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