Roof attorneys want death penalty ruled unconstitutional

2016-08-02 20:40
Dylann Roof enters the court in Charleston. (Randall Hill, AP)

Dylann Roof enters the court in Charleston. (Randall Hill, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Charleston - Attorneys for Dylann Roof, the white man charged with killing nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church, want a federal judge to rule the death penalty unconstitutional and allow their client to plead guilty and serve life in prison.

Lawyers for 22-year-old Roof filed the motion on Monday, saying a flawed process of sitting juries willing to recommend the death penalty violates the rights of both potential jurors and defendants.

The government is seeking the death penalty against Roof, who is charged with hate crimes and other counts in the June 2015 shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Prosecutors allege Roof posed with the Confederate battle flag before the killings and talked of starting a race war.

His federal trial is set for November. He also faces the death penalty in state court where he is charged with murder in a trial set to begin early next year.

In the filing, Assistant Federal Public Defender Sarah Gannett said while some aspects of jury selection in death penalty cases have been considered by the courts, other issues she puts forward are being raised for the first time.

While the law provides that all citizens have an opportunity to sit on juries, juries willing to impose a death penalty don't represent a cross-section of the community, the filing said.

Gannett said such juries are more likely to be white, older, predominantly Protestant and less educated than the rest of society, while women and minorities tend to be excluded.

She also noted that excluding jurors who oppose the death penalty for religious reasons violates constitutional protections against requiring religious tests for holding office or having positions of public trust.

"If a proposed juror is Catholic, Quaker or any sect of any other religion and adamantly opposed to the death penalty, death qualification discriminates against that juror's religion," she said.

Both Roof's state and federal attorneys have said he is willing to plead guilty in return for a life sentence.

Gannett said US District Judge Richard Gergel should allow the federal case to proceed as a non-capital case.

Then Roof could plead guilty and "would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release and this prosecution would conclude", she wrote.

Read more on:    us  |  charleston shooting  |  racism

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.