CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The federal death penalty trial of a white man charged in the slayings of nine members of a historic black church will be held in November, a judge said Tuesday.
Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel set Nov. 7 as the day to begin selecting jurors for the federal trial of Dylann Roof, 22, who faces numerous federal counts, including hate crimes, in the June 17 shootings at Emanuel AME Church.
Handcuffed and clad in a gray striped jumpsuit, Roof attended Tuesday’s hearing but did not address the court.
In court, Roof’s federal attorneys reiterated previous comments that he would be willing to plead guilty if the death penalty were not on the table.
Defense attorneys and federal prosecutors told Gergel they felt they had enough time to prepare their case. The trial is estimated to last up to six weeks. Gergel said more than 1,000 summons could possibly be issued to potential jurors throughout the state.
Roof’s state trial on murder charges is scheduled for January. State prosecutors are also seeking the death penalty.
The killings reignited discussions about race relations and led to the removal of a Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina Statehouse. Roof had previously posed for photos with a rebel flag.
Due in part to problems in obtaining lethal injection drugs, no one has been executed in South Carolina since 2011. The federal government hasn’t put anyone to death since 2003.
Meg Kinnard in Columbia contributed to this report.
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