Accused Charleston church gunman pleads not guilty but plans to plead guilty …

1 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Accused Charleston shooter Dylann Roof faces court appearance.

The man accused of killing nine people in a historic black church in Charleston last month pleaded not guilty to federal hate crimes charges on Friday.

Attorneys for Dylann Roof, 21, said he had wanted to enter a guilty plea for all counts but could not because the government has not decided if it will pursue the death penalty in the case. Earlier this month, a grand jury indicted Roof on 33 counts, including federal hate crime and firearms charges, in the shooting that killed nine people.

Roof, who is white, is charged with opening fire on a Bible study class after sitting with them for about an hour at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church on 17 June. The hearing, which was expected to be brief and would be his first appearance in federal court, was originally set for July 27 but was rescheduled to allow attorneys more time to prepare. South Carolina authorities have provided an image on Twitter of Roof wearing a jacket with the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia, a former British colony where a white minority ruled until 1980 and whose name was changed to Zimbabwe.

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. 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.

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 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.

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