As we reported last month, Dylann Roof faces 33 federal charges and nine state counts of murder for massacring nine Black worshippers at Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Department of Justice announced yesterday (May 24) its pursuit of the death penalty for Roof.
“Following the department’s rigorous review process to thoroughly consider all relevant factual and legal issues, I have determined that the Justice Department will seek the death penalty,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a statement. ”The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision.”
Prosecutors cited Roof’s “expressed hatred and contempt towards African-Americans, as well as other groups” in a filing to Federal District Court in Charleston cited by The New York Times, adding that ”his animosity towards African-Americans played a role in the murders charged in the indictment.” The 33 federal charges against Roof, who demonstrated White supremacist leanings, include hate-crime charges.
While a state judge delayed Roof’s state trial until next year, federal authorities have yet to set a date for his federal one.