S.C. To Seek Death Penalty For Dylann Roof In Charleston Shooting

September 3, 2015

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

The white man accused of murdering nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., in June will face the death penalty, according to court documents filed Thursday.

South Carolina Solicitor Scarlett Wilson spoke to reporters shortly after filing the court paper announcing she would pursue the death penalty for Dylann Roof, according to the Associated Press.

She called Roof’s actions “the ultimate crime that deserved the ultimate punishment” and said that while she took into account the desire of some of the victims’ family members for forgiveness, she “appreciated that they all respected her decision to seek the death penalty,” the AP reports.

She also said it should not be the responsibility of the victims’ family members to have a say in what punishment awaits Roof.

“People who have already been victimized should not bear the burden of making the decisions on behalf of an entire community. They shouldn’t have to weigh the concerns of other people. They shouldn’t have to consider the facts of the case,” she said, according to the AP.

Roof, 21, has been charged by the state with nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and the use of a firearm during a violent felony. He has not yet entered a plea for the state charges, as his lawyers were waiting to see what punishment the state would pursue. He also faces 33 federal hate crime counts, to which a not guilty plea has been entered on his behalf.

The court filings state that prosecutors will present evidence showing motive for the crimes, planning and premeditation and an “utter disregard and lack of remorse for the nine people he murdered” in the June 17 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

That evidence against Roof will include “photographs, video tapes, diagrams of the scene and victims, expert testimony, and statements by the Defendant, internet postings by the Defendant and other testimony related thereto,” according to the filings.

As the Two-Way reported, Roof is charged with gunning down nine parishioners at a black church in June. His attorney said his client initially wanted to plead guilty.

The Associated Press reports:

“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.

“U.S. Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant then entered a not guilty plea for Roof, 21, who faces federal charges including hate crimes, weapons charges and obstructing the practice of religion. 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.”

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