A South Carolina judge announced yesterday (April 13) that the trial for Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof will be moved from July 2016 to January of 2017.
Roof faces nine counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder for shooting parishioniers during Bible study at Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to death. He faces an additional 33 federal charges, including hate crimes. His U.S. District Court trial has also been delayed while the Justice Department decides if it will seek the death penalty.
According to Reuters, Judge J.C. Nicholson announced the delay during a court hearing attended by several victims’ relatives. Roof waived his right to appear.
Nicholson attributed the delay to defense lawyers’ request for a months-long psychiatric evaluation of Roof. Court documents filed Tuesday (April 12) indicate that doctors will testify about Roof’s mental health and narcotic use. When Nicholson asked why doctors weren’t hired earlier, one defense lawyer responded, "Time constraints are tying our hands as well."
The massacre, which was inspired by Roof’s White supremacist views, shocked the nation and provoked calls for domestic terrorism hearings, Confederate Flag removal and increased gun control.