Loretta Lynch to Decide if Charleston Shooter Should Face Death Penalty

By Kenrya Rankin Apr 06, 2016

Last July, Dylann Roof confessed to shooting and killing nine Black parishioners at Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Now, his ultimate fate rests in the hands of the U.S. attorney general.

The Associated Press reports that Attorney General Loretta Lynch is currently deciding if federal prosecutors will pursue the death penalty in Roof’s trial. The news comes from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson, who was in court yesterday (April 5) to discuss case updates with Roof’s counsel. Roof’s federal trial date will not be set until Lynch makes the call; The Washington Post reports that it was delayed earlier this year pending the decision, which Roof’s attorneys say they need to adequately prepare their case.

Roof, who is White, was indicted on 33 federal hate crime and firearm charges for what Lynch previously referred to as “racially motivated violence.” If Lynch declines to pursue the death penalty and he is found guilty, Roof could be sentenced to life in prison.

South Carolina prosecutors will seek the death penalty when he appears in state court this July to face nine counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.