On Tuesday night Attorney General Lorretta Lynch announced that the Justice Department would seek the death penalty against Dylann Roof. Roof is responsible for the June 2015 massacre that left 9 people dead and multiple injured.
Lynch confirmed her long-speculated decision in a written statement on Tuesday.
“Following the department’s rigorous review process to thoroughly consider all relevant factual and legal issues, I have determined that the Justice Department will seek the death penalty,” Lynch said. The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision.”
On June 17, 2015, Roof carried out a pre-planned attack during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church with the intention of starting a “race war.”
The 22 year-old self-described white supremacist had authored an online manifesto declaring his intentions, and had openly expressed his racist views.
Roof was indicted on 33 federal charges, including federal hate crime charges, firearms offenses, murder, and attempted murder.
According to The New York Times, last summer Roof told his defense team he would like to plead guilty, but the lawyers were apparently waiting for Lynch’s decision before moving forward with a plea.
“Mr. Roof has told us that he wishes to plead guilty,” David Bruck, Roof’s defense lawyer said during a hearing last summer. “Until we know whether the government will be seeking the death penalty, we are not able to advise Mr. Roof.”
A date has not been set for a federal trial. There have been no executions since 2003 in Charleston.