When accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof goes on trial this November, the jury pool will come from Charleston and not statewide, a federal judge determined Monday.
There had been some question about whether Roof’s federal trial would need pull from a statewide pool, due to the high-profile nature of the case and risk of a tainted jury. Bust District Judge Richard Gergel settled the issue when he ruled Monday that a local pool will be used for the death-penalty case.
Roof faces 33 federal charges, including hate crimes, for the June 2015 attack that killed nine people in an Emanuel AME Church Bible study. Both sides agreed on the local jury, but prosecutors said they did not want Roof’s attorneys to later claim they were not enough impartial jurors due to the crime’s immediacy. Attorney David Bruck pledged he had no intention of doing that, but did not rule it out, either. Roof was not present at Monday’s hearing.
There will likely be several more hearings before the federal trial begins Nov. 7. Defense attorneys have filed several other motions, including one that questions whether the US Justice Department even has the jurisdiction to seek the death penalty. The challenge claims federal prosecutors cannot cite the US Constitution’s “commerce clause” because Roof’s accused crimes did not involve the “interstate commerce” that the Justice Department cites.
Roof also faces a separate state trial next year once the federal jury reaches a decision. Jury selection in that case is scheduled for mid-January.