A federal judge Tuesday set a start date for Dylann Roof’s death penalty trial.
Roof will go on trial Nov. 7 for 33 federal charges related to the killing of nine worshipers during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in June 2015. The Justice Department announced last month it would seek the death penalty in the case, which is rare in federal hate crimes prosecutions.
The proceedings could impact the state trial. 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson also indicated she will seek the death penalty in the trial slated to begin in January.
“The notion we’re arm-wrestling or arguing with our federal counterparts is just not there,” she told reporters after Tuesday’s hearing. “We have been very cooperative with each other.”
District Judge Richard Gergel has previously delayed Roof’s trial until federal prosecutors decided if they would seek the accused gunman’s death. Roof’s attorneys have consistently maintained he would be willing to plead guilty as long as capital punishment is off the table. Meanwhile, an attorney for the victim’s families insisted he’d like to see prosecutors take that deal, since families will continue to hear about the case for at least another five months.
“The sooner that this difficult time gets behind them, the better,” attorney Andy Savage told reporters. “That’s why I was sort of lobbying for a life sentence: If they agree to be punished… without any possibility of getting out of prison, it’s over.”