Jury trial for Dylann Roof, suspect in S.C. church shootings

Jury-trial-for-Dylann-Roof-suspect-in-SC-church-shootings.  CHARLESTON, S.C.,  A federal judge ruled Dylann Roof, suspected in the June 2015 shootings in a Charleston, S.C., church in which nine people died, will face a trial by jury.

Dylann Roof, accused in a shooting spree that left nine dead at a historic Charleston, South Carolina church appears before a judge on June 19, 2015. Monday a federal judge ordered a jury trial, to begin in November. File/Pool/UPI

Roof’s lawyers sought to have a bench trial in which the outcome would be decided by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel alone. This method, under federal law, must first be approved by prosecutors.

In a court document filed Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson noted, “The government advises the court that it does not consent and, instead, respectfully requests that a jury determine the defendant’s guilt and appropriate punishment.”

A statement by Gergel, later Monday, said, “The trial will be conducted by jury, and should defendant be found guilty of one or more capital crimes, the sentencing hearing will be conducted before a jury.”

The trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 7. If Roof is convicted, he could receive the death penalty. He also faces a trial in state court on nine counts of murder, set for January, but whether that trial proceeds depends on the outcome of the federal trial.

Roof, 22, is charged with 33 federal counts in the shooting deaths of nine African-American parishioners in Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, including hate crimes, weapons possession and violations of religious rights.

By Ed Adamczyk