Dylann Roof, Suspect in Charleston Killings, Indicates Desire to Plead Guilty

1 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof wants to plead guilty, lawyer says.

A federal magistrate on Friday entered a “temporary” not guilty plea for Dylann Roof on hate crime charges in the slaying of nine African-Americans at a South Carolina church, even as his lawyer said his client wanted to plead guilty. 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. The lead defence attorney, David Bruck, said he could not advise Roof, 21, to declare his guilt in the massacre until after prosecutors said whether they would seek capital punishment. “Roof has told us he wishes to plead guilty,” Bruck told the court. “Until we know whether the government will seek the death penalty, we cannot advise Mr. Dylann Roof, 21, was seen in shackles and gray striped prison garb at his first appearance at US District Court in Charleston since his federal indictment on July 22. 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.

Federal magistrate judge Bristow Marchant — who needed almost a half-hour to formally read aloud the 33-count federal indictment — then entered the not-guilty pleas. “The process has started. Appearing in court in a gray striped jail jumpsuit, his hands in shackles, Roof answered yes several times in response to the judge’s questions but otherwise didn’t speak. “Mr.

This is a long journey, but we are committed to the task to make sure justice is done,” Emanuel’s interim pastor Norvel Goff told reporters outside the court. More than two dozen survivors and relatives of the victims of last month’s killings attended the hearing, where Roof was arraigned on 33 federal hate crime and firearms charges. “I am hurting inside for what he is accused of doing,” said Sanders, father of victim Tywanza Sanders, 26, and husband of Felicia Sanders, who survived. “I want him to think about what I’m thinking and continue to think about it.” At an earlier appearance in state court, family members riveted the country by expressing heartfelt forgiveness to Roof, saying their Christian faith compelled them to rise above their grief. In a website attributed to him, he espoused racist views towards African-Americans and, in photos, posed with firearms and the Confederate battle flag. The federal indictment against Roof accuses him of nine murders and three attempted murders under a hate crime law that prohibits the use of force to harm an individual on the basis of race or color.

The federal charges are based on evidence that the suspect targeted the victims “because of their race and in order to interfere with their exercise of religion,” U.S. In addition, he stands accused of using a firearm to carry out what Attorney General Loretta Lynch called “racially motivated murders and attempted murders.” 1. Roof planned the murders for months with the “goal of increasing racial tensions throughout the nation and seeking retribution for perceived wrongs he believed African-Americans had committed against white people,” Lynch said. He singled out the nearly 200-year-old church known as “Mother Emanuel” because of its historical significance in the African-American community, Lynch said.

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.

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