Prosecutor to Seek Death for Church Murders

     (CN) – A South Carolina prosecutor will seek the death penalty for Dylann Roof, the man accused of killing nine during a Bible study class at a church in downtown Charleston in June.
     The decision wasannounced by Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
     Roof is charged with nine state counts of murder, three of attempted murder and a firearms count in the June 17 shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Roof, 21, of Eastover, S.C., has also been indicted on 33 federal charges, including hate crimes and religious freedom violations.
     Federal prosecutors have not announced whether they will also seek the death penalty, explaining at the time of the indictment that they would wait to see how the state was going to proceed.
     In order to recommend the death penalty after finding a defendant guilty, a jury must find an aggravated circumstance attached to the crime. State law lays out 12 specific criteria for what amounts to an “aggravated circumstance.”
     During a hearing in July, Roof’s federally appointed attorneys said the accused white supremacist who was trying to start a race war wants to plead guilty to the charges against him, but was waiting until the state made a decision on seeking the death penalty.
     During a brief arraignment in federal court, defense attorney David Bruck said that he couldn’t advise his client, Dylann Roof, to enter a guilty plea without knowing the government’s intentions.
     “Until we know whether the Government will be asking for the death penalty, we are not able to advise Mr. Roof to enter a plea of guilty,” Bruck said. “And for that reason, we understand that the Court will enter a plea on his behalf.”
     Roof is being held in isolation at the Charleston County Detention Center in North Charleston.

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