Dylann Roof

Not guilty plea in federal court for church shooting suspect; he wants opposite, lawyer says


The white man accused of gunning down 9 parishioners at a black church in Charleston wants to plead guilty to 33 federal charges, but his lawyer said in court Friday that he couldn’t advise his client to do so until prosecutors say whether they’ll seek the death penalty.
During a brief arraignment in federal court, defense attorney David Bruck said that he couldn’t counsel his client, Dylann Roof, to enter a guilty plea without knowing the government’s intentions.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant then entered a not guilty plea for Roof, 21, who faces federal charges including hate crimes, weapons charges and obstructing the practice of religion. Appearing in court in a gray striped prison jumpsuit, his hands in shackles, Roof answered yes several times in response to the judge’s questions but otherwise didn’t speak.
“Mr. Roof has told us that he wishes to plead guilty,” Bruck said. “Until we know whether the government will be seeking the death penalty, we are not able to advise Mr. Roof.”
The federal prosecution, particularly on hate crimes, has been expected since the June 17 shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Church. Early on, officials with the U.S. Department of Justice said they felt the case met the qualifications for a hate crime, and Roof was indicted by a federal grand jury about a month after the killings.
Roof appeared in photos waving Confederate flags and burning and desecrating U.S. flags. Federal authorities have confirmed his use of a personal manuscript in which he decried integration and used racial slurs to refer to blacks.
Because South Carolina has no state hate-crimes law, federal charges were needed to adequately address a motive that prosecutors believe was unquestionably rooted in racial hate, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said during a news conference announcing Roof’s federal indictment.
18 of the 33 charges against Roof could potentially carry the death penalty, while conviction on each of the others could mean a life prison sentence. Each charge also carries the possibility of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Also during Friday’s hearing, Marchant accepted Roof’s application as an indigent defendant – meaning the state will pay for his attorneys – and formalized the appointment of Bruck and another defense lawyer, Michael O’Connell. Marchant set Aug. 20 as a deadline for attorneys to file pre-trial motions. No future hearings are scheduled in Roof’s case.
Marchant also heard briefly from victims’ family members, who at Roof’s bond hearing in state court expressed statements of mercy and forgiveness despite his alleged crimes. On Friday, several relatives made similar comments in federal court.
“We don’t hold no ill will,” Leroy Singleton, brother of Myra Thompson, said tearfully. “We’re going to let the system work it out.”
Gracyn Doctor, daughter of another victim, DePayne Middleton Doctor, said she misses her mother greatly but wouldn’t let Roof get the better of her.
“Even though he has taken the most precious thing in my life, he will not take my joy,” Doctor told the judge.
An attorney for the church said that the AME community nationally and worldwide would be watching the case closely as it moves forward.
“The world is watching,” Eduardo Curry told reporters outside the courthouse after the hearing. “What we want justice to be is mighty and fair.”
Roof also faces numerous state charges, including nine counts of murder and another potential death penalty prosecution. The Justice Department has not said if its case will come first, and the state also has not announced its decision on the death penalty.
Source: Associated Press, August 1, 2015

Dylann Roof, Charleston Shooting Suspect, Is Indicted on Federal Hate Crime Charges


JULY 22, 2015

WASHINGTON — Dylann Roof, the man suspected of killing nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., last month was indicted on Wednesday on federal hate crime and other charges, including some that carry the federal death penalty, two law enforcement officials said on Wednesday.

Mr. Roof, 21, already faces nine counts of murder in state court and could face the death penalty there. But Justice Department and F.B.I. officialshave said the Charleston shooting was so horrific and racially motivated that the federal government must address it.

He was also charged with killing someone while obstructing religious freedom, which is eligible for the death penalty.

South Carolina does not have a hate crimes law, and federal officials have said they believe that a murder case alone would leave the racial component of the crime unaddressed.

A grand jury was expected to return a federal indictment on Wednesday afternoon. It was not immediately clear how that indictment would affect the state prosecution. The Justice Department has the option to delay its case and wait to see how the state case ends before deciding whether to proceed with a second trial. Under federal law, a hate crime does not, by itself, carry a possible death sentence.

Authorities have linked Mr. Roof to a racist Internet manifesto and said he was in contact with white supremacist groups before his attack on the Emanuel A.M.E. Church. He was photographed holding a Confederate flag and a handgun.

“I have no choice,” the manifesto reads. “I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the Internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”

Survivors said that Mr. Roof arrived at the church as worshipers gathered for a Wednesday night Bible study group. “You are raping our women and taking over our country,” Mr. Roof said to the victims, all of them black, before killing them, witnesses told the police.

The shooting sparked fresh national debate over the symbolism of the Confederate flag. South Carolina lawmakers responded by removing the flag from the State House grounds.

Federal Hate Crime Charges Likely in South Carolina Church Shooting


June 24, 2015

 WASHINGTON — The Justice Department will likely file federal hate crime charges against the man suspected of carrying out a massacre at a storied black church in South Carolina, federal law enforcement officials said Wednesday.
Dylann Roof, 21, already faces nine counts of murder and could receive the death penalty in state court. But there is widespread agreement among officials at the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation that the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston was so horrific and racially motivated that the federal government was obligated to address it, law enforcement officials said.
F.B.I. analysts have also concluded “with a high degree of certainty” that Mr. Roof posted a racist manifesto online, which could be a key to any federal charges, a law enforcement official said. The website was registered in February under Mr. Roof’s name, but the name was made anonymous the following day.
In cases involving violations of both state and federal law, the Justice Department often refrains from bringing federal charges, particularly when suspects face long state prison sentences. But South Carolina does not have a hate crimes law, and federal investigators believe that a murder case alone would leave the racial component of the shooting unaddressed.
The site also showed 60 photographs, including one of Mr. Roof holding a Confederate flag in one hand and a handgun in the other. Other photos of Mr. Roof appeared to have been taken at Confederate heritage sites and slavery museums.
Analysts at the F.B.I. laboratory in Quantico, Va., are also analyzing a computer and phone that Mr. Roof had used, officials said. The agents and analysts are piecing together Mr. Roof’s communications and uncovering any information that may have been deleted.
When federal and state prosecutors each bring charges, they typically coordinate their cases so one does not undermine the other. The death penalty could be a factor. South Carolina’s murder law carries a possible death sentence, while a violation of the federal hate crime law carries up to life in prison. Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, has called for Mr. Roof to face the death penalty.