Dylann Roof: Not guilty pleas entered for Charleston shooting suspect to all charges

The 21-year-old faces dozens of charges relating to shooting dead of nine people at historic black church

Click to follow
The Independent US

A court has entered a plea of not guilty to all 33 federal charges for the young man accused over the shooting deaths of nine black members of an historic Charleston church.

Dylann Roof appeared at a federal court in the South Carolina city on Friday where his lawyer, David Bruck, told a judge that the 21-year wanted to enter guilty pleas to all of the charges he faces.

Wearing a striped grey prison jumpsuit and his hands in shackles, Mr Roof answered "yes" several times in response to the judges questions, but did not otherwise say anything else.

Mr Bruck said that because the government had not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty, the legal team was unable to advise its client. The judge, Bristow Marchant, then entered the not guilty plea on all counts on Mr Roof’s behalf. The plea can be altered at a later date.

Mr Roof was formally arraigned on 33 federal charges, including nine counts of murder and 12 so-called hate crimes. The other charges included the use of a weapon to commit murder.

Mr Roof has previously been charged with a dozen counts of murder and attempted murder by state prosecutors. It is not clear whether the federal or local prosecutions will take precedence.

The Associated Press said that the judge also heard briefly from family members of victims of the June 17 attack. Several church representatives also spoke.

Mr Roof was arrested in the days after the attack on the traditionally black church, carried out as members were holding a bible study session in the basement.

In the subsequent days, a racist ‘manifesto’, apparently written by the young man and outlining an extremist world view, was discovered on the internet. Federal investigators believe Mr Roof wrote the document.

Mr Roof’s trials are not expected to begin until next summer.