Attorneys for accused Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof still want a judge to drop federal hate crime charges in the case.
According to the Associated Press, Roof’s attorneys said prosecutors have to show that the shooting involved interstate commerce to charge him with hate crimes under federal law. They argued any connection between the June 17, 2015 shooting that killed nine people at the Charleston church and the issue of interstate commerce is unclear.
Prosecutors from the US Justice Department said Roof used the internet to scope out the church, drove on an interstate to Charleston, and then again when he fled to North Carolina after the shooting, and used a weapon manufactured out of state. The federal agency is claiming interstate commerce to explain its jurisdiction in the hate crimes case.
The 22 year-old roof Roof is facing 33 counts in federal court in a death penalty trial scheduled to begin in November. He also faces murder and weapons charges in state court once his federal trial is complete.
Roof’s lawyers want the charges dropped and said that other courts have had problems with how a crime significantly affects interstate commerce. Previously, defense attorneys have indicated they would drop their challenge to the Justice Department’s jurisdiction if federal prosecutors agree not to pursue the death penalty.