|Dylann S. Roof|
State prosecutors have said in court documents that they will seek the death penalty for Dylann S. Roof, who is charged with the racially motivated murders of nine people in a church in Charleston, S.C., The Associated Press reported Thursday.
After the June 17 massacre of black ministers and parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, it emerged that the suspect, Mr. Roof, 21, who is white, had expressed white supremacist views and hatred of black people.
Mr. Roof has been indicted twice for the killings, in state court and in federal court, and each of those cases carries a possible death sentence. Until the court filing Thursday by Scarlett A. Wilson, the South Carolina state solicitor overseeing the case, neither set of prosecutors had said publicly whether they would seek to have him executed, but state officials, including Gov. Nikki R. Haley, have said emphatically that the case warrants the death penalty.
The documents said prosecutors would pursue the death penalty because more than two people were killed, and that others’ lives were put at risk, The A.P. reported.
According to the report, prosecutors said they intended to present evidence on Mr. Roof’s mental state, adult and juvenile criminal record and other conduct, as well as his apparent lack of remorse for the killings.
A lone gunman walked into the historic church in downtown Charleston, and sat in a Bible study session for almost an hour before drawing a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun, and shooting people ranging in age from 26 to 87.
The slaughter drew international attention, prompting debate about race and guns — all the more so for taking place in a city that was the center of the American slave trade and the flash point of the Civil War, and in a church closely identified with the abolition and civil rights movements.
Published pictures of Mr. Roof, 21, posing with the Confederate battle flag, also renewed debates about the use of that flag and other symbols of the Old South, and within days, both chambers of the South Carolina General Assembly voted to remove the banner from the State House grounds.
Mr. Roof indicated in federal court on July 31 that he wanted to plead guilty, but his lawyers said he could not make such a plea without knowing whether it could bring on the death penalty.
Source: The New York Times, Ricahrd Pérez-Peñan Sept. 3, 2015
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