The lawyers for a Charleston, South Carolina shooter asked to delay his trial for the murder of nine people.
Dylann Roof’s legal team says the death penalty trial date of July 11 does not allow them enough time to prepare. Court petitions filed last Thursday say the team needs to complete substantial preparation and investigative work so their client can have an adequate defense.
The motion, signed by Public Defender Ashley Pennington and Roof’s attorney William McGuire, said beginning the trial within the current time frame “while substantial investigation and preparation remains to be done in a case that is neither factually nor legally straightforward would deny the defendant the basic tools for an adequate defense.” The request to delay the trial will be made at Wednesday’s hearing.
The current trial date was set last summer. Circuit Court Judge J.C. Nicholson set the trial on July 16, giving the defense nearly a year to prepare. On June 28, 600 potential jurors will be asked to report in court. Jurors will then be narrowed down. Attorneys are due to begin questioning for the state death penalty trial on July 11. Roof has been charged with nine counts of murder and three attempted murder charges for shooting a Black congregation at Emanuel AME Church, the Associated Press reports.
According to Atlanta Black Star, Roof’s federal trial was delayed by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel last week. The decision was made so the prosecution can decide if the death penalty will be sought. Roof, 22, plans to plead guilty in the decision if there is no death penalty. The white supremacist also faces other federal charges, including hate crimes. Joey Meek, Roof’s friend, has his trial scheduled for 9 a.m. July 27. Meek is accused of not telling authorities he knew about Roof’s plans to kill at the AME church.
Last year, state solicitor Scarlett A. Wilson said some of the victim’s families didn’t want to pursue the death penalty. She said that because of their faith, a few of the families do not believe in punishment by death under any circumstances. Others saw the death penalty as a “practical consideration,” deeming it too easy for the shooter to get away with the crime.