Newstalk
Newstalk

09.01 25 May 2016


Share this article


The US Justice Department have said they will seek the execution of a white man accused of killing nine black churchgoers in South Carolina.

The decision by federal prosecutors means Dylann Roof, who allegedly opened fire inside a church in a racially motivated attack last June, will face two death penalty trials.

In a short statement, the attorney general Loretta Lynch said: "The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision".

As well as facing nine counts of murder in state court, the 22-year-old has been charged with 33 federal crimes - including obstruction of religion, firearms offences, and hate crimes.

Lynch said her department had thoroughly considered "all relevant factual and legal issues" in its decision to seek capital punishment if he is convicted.

Federal executions are exceedingly rare in the US. Only three have been performed in the past 50 years, and none have taken place since 2003.

According to his lawyers, Roof would be prepared to plead guilty if he did not face the death penalty.

The shootings during a Bible study session at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston sparked a nationwide debate about race in America.

At the time, Ms Lynch said: "To carry out these twin goals of fanning racial flames and exacting revenge, Roof further decided to seek out and murder African-Americans because of their race".

Roof's state trial is expected to begin in January, and a date for the federal case has not been set.

Not all of the victims' families believe Roof should face the death penalty if he is convicted, mainly because of their religious views.

But Steve Schmutz, a lawyer representing three families, said his clients "support whatever decision the US government is making in this case, and I'm sure they support this decision".


Share this article


Most Popular

Live: Title

Now playing

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share


Up next

Episode title
Show
Duration

You currently have no podcasts in your queue.

Go to podcasts

On Air

Off The Ball

Off The Ball

19:00-21:00

Share

Up next

SPLANC

SPLANC

22:00-00:00

Share

BEST OF NEWSTALK

BEST OF NEWSTALK

00:00-07:00

Share

In Case You Missed It

In Case You Missed It

07:00-08:00

Share

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST WITH SUSAN...

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST WITH SUSAN KEOGH

08:00-09:00

Share

THE HOME SHOW WITH SINEAD RYAN

THE HOME SHOW WITH SINEAD RYAN

09:00-10:00

Share

DOWN TO BUSINESS WITH BOBBY KE...

DOWN TO BUSINESS WITH BOBBY KERR

10:00-12:00

Share

FUTUREPROOF WITH JONATHAN MCCR...

FUTUREPROOF WITH JONATHAN MCCREA

12:00-13:00

Share

OFF THE BALL

OFF THE BALL

13:00-20:00

Share

TECH TALK WITH JESSICA KELLY

TECH TALK WITH JESSICA KELLY

20:00-21:00

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on