The white supremacist accused of gunning down nine parishioners at a black church in Charleston wants to plead guilty to 33 federal charges, but his lawyer said in court Friday that he wouldn’t 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 advise his client, Dylann Roof, to enter a guilty plea without knowing the government’s intentions.
Marchant also heard briefly from family members of victims of the June 17 attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston. Several church representatives also spoke.
Roof also faces numerous state charges, including nine counts of murder. Prosecutors in that case also have not said whether they’ll seek the death penalty.
No future hearings are scheduled in Roof’s case, although the judge did tell attorneys they have several weeks to file pretrial motions.
Last month, Dylan Roof was indicted by a grand jury, to stand trial on 33 charges. The grand jury’s indictment charged Roof with 33 counts, including federal hate crime and firearms charges.
The 21-year-old man accused has a criminal past. Dylann Roof was arrested twice this year and images of him posted to social media seem to show a racist ideology.
Emanuel’s interim pastor Norvel Goff told reporters outside court: “The process has started. This is a long journey, but we are committed to the task to make sure justice is done.”
Roof was arrested in North Carolina the day after the mass shooting whose victims included Emanuel’s chief pastor. He entered the church whilst bible studies were going on, just indiscriminately opening fire on those inside. Eight people died on the spot, whilst the ninth victim expired later on.